IMPORTERS and exporters from the Democratic Republic of (Congo) have praised improved efficiency at the Dar es Salaam Port in the shipment of their consignments but expressed misgivings over unscrupulous agents along the chain.
In the face of that anomaly, all agents dealing with Congolese traders will have to be registered by the Business Congolese International (BCI) before embarking on any business deals with them, according to the National President of the association, Mr Sumaili Edouard.
According to the businessman, since improvement of efficiency at the Dar es Salaam Port, shipments to and from DRC have since increased from 25 to 35 per cent out of Kinshasa’s freights, stressing that the aim was to add more through the Dar es Salaam route which covers shorter distances compared to other ports.
Agents involved in clearing and delivering the cargo to customers include shipping agents, clearing and forwarding agents, transporters and operators of inland container deports. DRC is the second largest transit user of the port of Dar es Salaam accounting for 25 per cent of the total transit traffic.
The country’s traffic has been increasing at an average of 24 per cent per annum since 2004, from 155,611 tonnes and reached 1,117,249 tonnes in 2013. “From now onwards, we will not deal with agents and transporters who are not registered with our association.
We want to make it easier for our people to identify companies which will frustrate them,” Mr Edouard explained, adding:. “Some people with little knowledge blame port authorities for some of the hurdles faced by traders but the truth is that the agents are to blame.
Since we have offices in Dar es Salaam, all these agents must be registered.” The BCI President declared the stand during a news conference at the end of three-day visit in the country by traders and officials from neighbouring countries which use the port, namely the DRC, Rwanda, Zambia, Burundi, Malawi and The Comoros.
Mr Edouard pointed out that the registration would enable the governments of DRC and Tanzania identify unscrupulous traders, as well as offer assistance when honest agents encounter any problem in any of the two countries.
He was similarly happy that many barriers along the transportation route had been removed, noting, however, that the remaining challenge was mobile weighing bridges which he said tended to provide inaccurate results on the weight of the cargo.
“There are cases where the cargo weighs 40 tonnes upon discharge but at these mobile scales, it goes up to 60 tonnes and this frustrates the traders since they are subjected to paying fines,” he complained.
In a related development, Mr Edouard revealed that traders from his country had appealed to the Tanzanian government to set up a dry port at Mpemba, near the Tunduma boarder, to ease movement of cargo to Zambia and DRC.
“It would be easier for our traders to pick their consignments at Mpemba rather than travelling all the way to Dar es Salaam,” he remarked during the press conference at the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA)’s headquarters.
Among others, DRC imports clothes, food, construction materials and machinery for mining while it exports copper and other minerals through the port.