Rwandan importers and exporters will no longer have to travel to Dar es Salaam port, Tanzania to clear their shipments, thanks to the new Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) liaison office, which opened last week in Kigali.
The liaison office is expected to operate as a one stop centre for traders to pay and clear their goods from Kigali without having to travel to Dar es Salaam.
According to traders, the initiative by TPA will reduce the cost of doing business along the central corridor.
Fred Seka, the Association of Clearing and Freight Forwarders Rwanda head, said the new office will help enhance efficiency and competitiveness.
His views were echoed by Bheki Mthembu, the Cimerwa chief executive officer, who said the new office gives traders a choice in terms of efficiency and pricing.
“It means that, as traders, we have a choice to make based on who provides the best quality service in terms of efficiency and pricing,” Mthembu said adding that stakeholders should also address the other challenges facing traders along the central corridor.
Tanzania’s port of Dar es Salaam is by far the most important port for Rwanda, accounting for over 80 per cent of the country’s international maritime trade.
More than 90 per cent of other exports (apart from tea and coffee) go through Dar es Salaam, according to figures from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
And, according to Prof. Makame Mbarwa, Tanzania’s Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Rwanda is the port’s third largest customer using Dar port “which is why we are in the process of modernising the port in addition to removing all the trade barriers along the central corridor to further facilitate regional trade.”
The minister noted that it is the very reason Tanzania gave Rwanda more than 17 hactres of land at Isaka dry port.
“The objective is to ensure we improve our business environment by modernising our infrastructure to help reduce the cost of doing business along the corridor,” he said describing the opening of the liaison office a clear testimony of the commitment by the Tanzanian government to improve business environment for clients in neighbouring countries for Rwanda.
Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye Rwanda’s state minister in charge of transport, said serving traders from Kigali could help reduce the time it takes to move cargo between the two countries by almost 50 per cent.
Currently, it takes almost 5 days to transport cargo from Dar port to Kigali
However, with the new TPA office in Kigali, this could be reduced, thus increasing trade volumes in the long run, Minister Uwihanganye said.
Meanwhile, Eng Deusdedit Kakoko, the TPA director general, said the idea of opening an office in Kigali was aimed at bringing services near the Rwandan business community, “which will help cut the cost of doing business, and reduce the hurdles within the logistics and supply chain”.
Kakoko said traders will be able to pay through Ecobank Rwanda and have their cargo cleared without having to travel to Dar. It will be a one-stop-centre, where customers can access information, including the status of their cargo, or applicable port charges.
Recently, Rwanda and Tanzania agreed to jointly construct a 521 kilometre Isaka-Kigali Standard Gauge Railway, a project that is expected to cost more than $2.5 billion.