Stevedoring charges which shipping lines pay to Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) should be waived to compensate for vessel berthing delays instead of introducing Vessel Delay Surcharges (VDS).
Tanzania Freight Forwarders' Association (TAFFA) Vice-President, Edward Urio told the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam last week that members of Tanzania Shipping Agents Association (TASAA) do not welcome the introduction of VDS.
"Introducing a vessel delay surcharge will only hurt Tanzanians who will have to bear the cost as importers.
Shipping agents should instead press Sumatra to abolish stevedoring charges paid to TICTS," Mr Urio said.
He warned that allowing the introduction of VDS will also hurt the economy and make the Dar es Salaam port less competitive.
Urio emphasized that TICTS has completely failed to improve performance because of lack of modern container handling equipment and urged Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) to act now and save the country's prime port from trouble.
"All the delays are caused by TICTS which has failed to modernize equipment and pay well its local staff who are on a regular go-slow. The company's senior officials are arrogant because they have godfathers in government who protect them," a vividly angry port worker.
TASAA Honorary Secretary Peter Kirigini issued a notice last week to all stakeholders which stated that its members will introduce VDS of 150 US dollars (approx.270,000/-) per container with immediate effect to cover costs incurred by shipping lines due to vessel berthing delays.
"Our members will start charging vessel delay surcharge with immediate effect after expiry of a period of three months given to TICTS to improve performance at the port," Mr Kirigini said.
He said a detailed report showing performance of Tanzania International Container Terminal Services since last February when Sumatra gave the company a three-month grace period to improve performance has also been served to stakeholders.
In the report, TASAA shows that the average vessel berthing delay last February was 12.29 days while average vessel productivity was 16.33 per vessel per hour. But after three months, the situation has not improved much as expected with average vessel berthing delays at 11.24 days while average vessel productivity is 16.36 per vessel per hour.
"From the above figures, we can recognize that the situation at TICTS is almost the same and no improvements have been made," Kirigini said in the notice served to all port stakeholders last week. TASAA also proposes two options to rescue the situation which include a suggestion that TICTS stevedoring tariff be reduced at an agreed rate to cover shipping lines' losses as the company is the main cause of the inefficiency problem.
Asked about the continued allegations of inefficiency at the country's prime port and failure to improve the situation in the past three months, TICTS Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Neville Bisset said he is currently travelling abroad."I am currently travelling. Please contact TICTS office for assistance," Mr Bisset wrote in a text message.
Aged equipment and construction work going on at Berth 8 are blamed for causing inefficiency by the country's main container operator. But TICTS has in the past blamed arrival of vessels in fleets which frustrates their capacity to attend to the ships.