Dar es Salaam congestion prompts Maersk, MSC to cut calls
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AP Moeller-Maersk has stopped containerships calling at Dar es Salaam for the time being because of crippling congestion that results in up to 25-day waits for berthing, reports the Dar es Salaam Citizen.

Nyota Tanzania Ltd will consequently stop taking orders from now until the end of April to allow the port to clear its backlog, according to a company statement. "Due to the current port congestion levels and delayed berthing, cargo destined for Tanzania has accumulated,"' it said.

Dar es Salaam handles more than three quarters of Tanzania's trade, according to the Hong Kong's Hutchison Port Holdings which operates the port, said Bloomberg report.

Container shipping line Mediterranean Shipping Co is said to have suffered losses from up to 25-day waits for berths, according to John Nyaronga, managing director of MSC's Tanzanian unit, cited in the report.

The severe congestion has prompted MSC to cut the number of calls at the port from 12 to five per month since December. "Shipowners are making big losses," Mr Nyarongo said. "The impact is that if they are not able to recover their losses, they will abandon the port."

The Port of Dar es Salaam handles 250,000 TEU annually, and is currently operating at 34 per cent above capacity, port manager Jason Rugaihuruza told Bloomberg.

In an effort to ease the congestion, the Tanzania Ports Authority is building six inland container terminals to help Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS), the local HPH clear the backlog of boxes, he said.

Furthermore, shipping lines calling at the port last year proposed a $200 per TEU vessel delay surcharge to offset some of the costs generated by long waits, Otieno Igogo, president of Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association said.

Tanzania's Surface and Marine Transport Authority, the industry regulator, held an emergency meeting with stakeholders over the weekend to devise a method to decongest the port's container terminal and inland depots.

A report by the Dar es Salaam Citizen said an emergency programme to ease the port congestion was launched by the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) at the end of last month, and so far more than one thousand containers have been offloaded to Zanzibar. More than 800 containers were transferred to internal containers depots, and the number of containers at yards of the Tanzania International Container Terminals (TICTS) was reduced earlier this week from 11,000 to 8,900. The aim is to clear the backlog down to 7,500 containers, the maximum capacity of the TICTS facility.