Mr Msanif H. Mussa is the Acting Director-General of the Zanzibar Ports Corporation. In this interview with ANNUALMEETINGS DAILY, he highlights the prospects and challenges facing Zanzibar’s marine industry.
The Zanzibar Ports Corporation has embarked on an expansion exercise to increase port capacity. What are your major areas of focus?
The major focal points are in the areas of increasing storage capacity through extension of container yard in the port and establishing an Inland Container Depot (ICDs). Getting the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) to work will provide the answer to the challenge of port congestion. In addition, they would boost economic activities and allow goods to move easily to local and regional markets. They offer services for handling and temporary storage of import/export laden and empty containers in clearing goods for home use, warehousing, temporary admissions, re-export, temporary storage for onward transit and outright export. Transshipment of cargo can also take place from such stations.
We intend to embark on improvement of container handling capacity through procurement of modern wharf equipment. The Port offers passenger services to compliment the mix of traditional and modern vessels served at the Port such as cruise ships, speed boats, dhows that ply the Pemba Channel or straight from Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam. Passengers embark or disembark either at the dhow wharf or at the lower Quay. We are also focusing on light cruise vessels that are handled at the higher quay because passengers are carried by boats to the quay. At the moment, a speed boat, MV Sepideh provides sea transport services for passengers to and from Tanga, Pemba, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar twice a week.
Berthing capacity needs to be improved at the port, and construction of a new container terminal will enhance port efficiency. Zanzibar Port Corporation (ZPC) has been initiated with the aim of boosting maritime trade by providing better port facilities. To ensure smooth and effective operation and trade activities, they work to bring the infrastructure of the ports to present standards of maritime industry. All the ports of Zanzibar are managed by ZPC.
What do you intend to achieve by this expansion drive?
Zanzibar Port Corporation has embarked on this expansion exercise to increase capacity, which would see the entering depth increased to accommodate larger ships and construction of new berths to handle more cargo. We are also looking at improving port performance which will attract more businesses to Zanzibar. Though it is on record that our port is widely praised for quick handling and clearance of goods compared to other ports in the regions, but some importers fail to clear their goods, more than six months, causing unnecessary congestions at the port.
Zanzibar port has been performing well and would compete in the East African region. The port can attract more business importers to use the port if the planned purchase of new port facilities materialises.
We are poised to attract more shipping lines to call at Zanzibar Port by improving our transshipment services. We match cargo to vessels and vice versa for local importers and exporters, to and from Tanzania. This is a business that was started in 1999 and is gradually expanding. We seek for services of a local company and ship contractors to do tally work to complement our services to satisfy owners.
We do transshipment for cargo as required by owners, mainly to and from Zanzibar, Mombasa (Kenya), and Tanga ports, where main liner vessels find it too expensive to call. This is a very potential market for imports from the Middle East / Far East. It is a service that the company is planning to expand in the coming years. We do this as an added value service for containers discharged or exported by our principals. We use leased depots, a short distance from the port for bundled cargo.
What plans do you have to modernise the Port and make it more competitive in the global maritime business?
We need to construct a new hub port adjacent to the existing port. There has been an Approval for the implementation of Zanzibar Transport Master Plan (ZTMP), which provides strategies to implement transport policy and to replace older, outdated transport plans, particularly the 1982 Town and Road Infrastructure plans. ZTMP provides responses to current and projected needs for road, airport and maritime transport. Their recommendations include improvements of transport regulations and safety methods; policy development.
The proposed container hub port will be built at Maruhubi area. The scale of work can serve not only Zanzibar but the East and Central African market. The size of investment required, the timeframe for completion of the task and quality of management, all call for the government to team up with a strategic Private Port Operator (under PPP framework). Moreover, the ports in Pemba should also be modernised to serve Pemba as one of international port of entry.
Another strategy we have in modernizing the port is upgrading navigational aids by changing system of light houses, buoys, leading marks and communication system. The Zanzibar government is implementing communications infrastructure projects that are cheaper, reliable and very effective. Timely implementation of these projects would increasingly contribute to Zanzibar’s economic development, particularly in the port industry. For Zanzibar to reach that stage the following projects need urgent implementation:
In what ways has the government policy thrust helped in the development of the Port?
The establishment of a full autonomous body like the Zanzibar Port Corporation to operate and develop the ports of Zanzibar, will help. They are capable of rehabilitating the port infrastructure to the latest possible standards of the marine industry in order to set up a state of operations and facilities for efficient and effective services. This in due course will improve performance in terms of financial management and customer satisfaction. It will improve maritime trade and provide quality service at the port.
What advice do you have for government to improve the port?
Government should find an investor, partner or financier to invest in the construction of a hub port. The current port development phase underlines that ports are going beyond their own facilities to help accommodate additional traffic and the complexity of freight distribution, namely by improving hinterland transportation.