Chinese, Omani firms drop out of Bagamoyo port talks

05Aug 2022
By Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Chinese, Omani firms drop out of Bagamoyo port talks

THE government is currently looking for potential investors to take up the Bagamoyo Port project in Coast Region after China Merchants Holdings (International) Co Ltd (CMHI) and Oman Investment Authority (OIA) both withdrew.

With an interim accord reached in 2013, the construction of the $10bn (22.3trn/-) port facility has been hit by disaccord on the preliminary agreement, with government agencies failing to reach accords with the Chinese, the Omanis and failing to take notice of French investors’ interest expressed during a visit by President Samia Suluhu Hassan back in February.

The sixth phase government has shown zeal to revive the project but negotiation guidelines appear to be inadequate, despite President Samia often blaming top officials for ‘dilly dallying’ in negotiations until they tire out and withdraw.

Traditionally the legislature and senior government officials blame foreign companies when there is a dispute in relation to this or that contract or tender but a different tonality is taking hold during the sixth phase.

All the same the pattern seems to linger on as there was a possibility of an accord being reached with either the Chinese as original bidders or the Omanis as a late entrant, or even taking up the French offer into discussions.

The tone of the minister for Works and Transport, Prof Makame Mbarawa was that the government is opening the doors to interested bidders for the project, the previous discussions having totally failed.

This was the impression created in the press conference yesterday in Dar es Salaam when responding to questions from journalists as he sought to highlight priorities of the ministry and pursuit of various projects.

Reasons leading to both potential investors to withdraw were not disclosed, with the minister laying accent on the need for more committed investors. They will be found to run the essential project in the country, he stated.

“We are starting afresh to find other potential investors who will be interested in the project as the government’s zeal to build the port has not changed,” he said.

“It is true that we have been talking about the Bagamoyo port for a long time now, and discussions were going very well with some investors but things didn’t go as we expected. They have decided to withdraw,” he said, affirmatively.

The construction of Bagamoyo port is vital because in the coming years Dar es Salaam port will fail to accommodate increasing cargo and the new port will rescue the situation. It will improve port handling capacity “so we need to construct this port as fast as we can,” he said.

Current port expansion focuses on constructing berths 8-11 at the Dar es Salaam port, along with berths number 1 and 2 at the port of Tanga, he said

No stakeholders had as yet expressed themselves on the matter, but some analysts saw it surprising that negotiators were unable to reach an accord with firms from China or Oman, countries with which Tanzania has a long history of bilateral, cultural and strategic relations.

Signs that negotiations were not proceeding appeared on the horizon before the budget session of the legislature, when deputy minister Atupele Mwakibete appealed for more investors to propose tenders for the project.

The Chinese firm reached preliminary accord with the fourth phase government in 2013 but some provisions appeared too stringent to obtain legislative approval, in like manner as debate has raged in Kenya on terms of construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), tying down port facilities in case debt repayment slackened a provision that has since been withdrawn.

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