By diverting some of its cargo away from the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, Zambia has been losing $30.5 (Tshs 18,300) per tonne. This was part of the valuable information Zambian President Chiluba picked up during a recent state visit to the neighbouring country.
During Zambian President Fredrick Chiluba's recent three day state visit to Tanzania, he was told by the Director-General of Tanzania Harbours Authority (THA), Mr. Samson Luhigo, that landlocked Zambia could save $15m (Tshs 900m) by using Dar es Salaam port for most of its import and exports.
The visit to the port was part of President Chiluba's itinerary. This was President Chiluba's first visit to Tanzania since his re-election to a second term of office in October 1996
Mr Luhigo told the Zambian leader that 80% of Zambia's cargo was handled through Tanzania Harbours Authority during the 1990s. He said that transporting Zambian goods was cheaper through Dar es Salaam harbour than through Beira (Mozambique) and Durban in South Africa. For food containers, Beira charges $3,262 (Tshs2m), Durban charges $4,315 (Tshs2.6m) compared to only $3,123 (Tshs1.9m) charged by Dar es Salaam port.
Dar, according to the THA top official, can handle 4 metric tonnes of traffic and 200 to 300 containers of cargo (or 1,500 to 2,000 metric tonnes) every 24 hours. This, he claimed, has made Dar es Salaam one of the leading ports in east and southern Africa.
Mr Luhigo urged the visiting Zambian head of state to ignore outdated records on Dar es Salaam port which gave a wrong impression on the port's current level of performance.
President Chiluba was taken around the Tanzania Harbours Authority silos as well. He had earlier planted an avocado tree seedling as a sign of good neighbourliness.
Meanwhile Zambia has expressed its commitment to ensuring the survival of the jointly-owned Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) line, contradicting reports that President Chiluba's government was just about to abandon it in favour of southern African routes to the sea.
Zambia's Deputy Minister for Communications and Transport, Mr S. Gilbert-Mululu, who accompanied President Chiluba to Tanzania, told newsmen that the...