The removal of several cargo clearing fees at the Dar es Salaam port has come at the right time.
As the main exit and entry point for millions of tonnes of goods annually Dar es Salaam is the anchor of Tanzania’s economy.
The port has an intrinsic capacity to handle more than 10 million tonnes.
In fact it handles 95 per cent of total Tanzania’s international trade and a significant part of goods from land locked countries of Malawi, Zambia, DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.
The charges that the government has said it has scrapped include delivery fees, stripping fees, export fees and container cleaning charges.
We are aware that this is just the beginning and that more “nuisance” fees would be scrapped, according to Work, Transport and Communications minister Isack Kamwelwe. It is at this juncture that we urge the government to also review the fees charged by regulatory authorities on the clearance of imported goods.
For example why should importers of food and drugs pay fees to both the Tanzania Bureau of Standards and the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority for conducting the same role of checking the quality of goods?
The removal of the charges, we hope, would boost economy activities and eventually trickle down to the benefit of the common mwananchi. The high cost of goods in the market is partly caused by too many charges and taxes in the logistical chain.
The government should, however, listen to the concerns of shipping agents. Some of the charges scrapped were levied directly by shipping agents who are important stakeholders in port activities.
And, understandably, the Tanzania Shipping Agents Association, is opposed to scrapping of some of these fees, saying it will compromise the quality of their services.
In fact the government could meet the shipping agents halfway by also revising some of the charges levied to shipping lines whey they dock at the port.