Report sheds new light on Tanga port saga

05Mar 2016
Correspondent
The Guardian
Report sheds new light on Tanga port saga
  • TPA alleges the barges were swept by storm to Malaysia
  • Despite severe damage, it paid a hefty $8.78m for them

FRESH details have emerged about the faulty Tanga port barges hardly two weeks after Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa made an impromptu visit to the port during which Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) issued a defensive account on the saga.

The view of Tanga port

The details are coming in the wake of the premier’s unscheduled visit to Tanga port on February19, during which he ordered submission of a comprehensive report to him from the Port Master, Henry Alika, clarifying irregularities in the procurement of barges at the cost of $10m (Sh21.7bn).

The report was intended to respond to queries about the reasons for procuring substandard barges and the person(s) responsible, knowing that the value-for-money aspect was not met.

On Thursday TPA issued a detailed report attempting to answer the queries raised by the prime minister when he visited the port last month.

The new report alleges that wear and tear of the barges resulted from ‘calamities’ which took place during shipping of the barges from Germany to Tanzania.

It further says that the supplier was required to ship the barges, but it turned out that they were too huge to fit into a ship, forcing the manufacturer to pull them by tugboats to the country.

It said while on their way to Tanzania, the barges encountered strong sea waves which submerged the tugboats, plunged the now uncontrollable barges into the sea, finally washing them on the shores of Malaysia with severe damage.

However, the barges, which were insured, were later recovered, refurbished and pulled from Malaysia to Tanga, where they reached on August 2014, nearly four years late.

“We discovered minor faults after inspection, which included lack of fenders to protect them while on the dock, and inefficient hatches during loading and unloading,” the TPA management says in the statement.

It adds that further inspection revealed that the barges lacked stability on the sea, leading to ineffective operation.

According to TPA, failure by the supplier to conduct proper maintenance of the hatch covers, in accordance with the agreement, led the TPA management to deny the firm an outstanding balance of $1, 348, 400.

It says despite delivering defective barges, TPA went ahead to pay the German-based supplier, Joh Achelis and Sohne GmbH, a staggering $8,764,600 out of $10,113,000, leaving a balance of only $1,348,400.

Procurement of the barges for the port followed a request by the port master in the 2010/2011 financial budget, which aimed at improving port operations due to increased cargo.

Despite TPA’s insistence that the purchase permit for the barges got the blessing of the board, the PM insists that initially only two barges were supposed to have been procured.

However, TPA refutes this claim on the ground that on March 16, 2012, changes were made in the earlier request in an official letter to the technical director seeking for purchase of three barges instead of two.

The request is said to have been accepted by the TPA management, though details provided by TPA show that the request was never discussed by the firm’s board.

During his visit to the port, the PM was disappointed with the TPA management for procuring three barges instead of two as earlier directed; and worse still, even the procured barges were of very low quality, thus demanding comprehensive details.

The report says that the TPA technical director, a marine engineer and Tanga harbour master prepared the technical specifications for the third barge to be procured basing on the new request.

Later, the procurement unit distributed the new specifications to the tender board on March 31, 2011 through an addendum No.1, according to the required terms and conditions.

According to TPA, the tendering process to purchase the barges was transparent and went through the proper channels by incorporating marine experts who worked under an evaluation team formed by the TPA Director General to ensure that a capable supplier was found.

After due diligence, the TPA tender board, in its meeting on December 1 and 2, 2011, endorsed Joh Achelis and Sohne GmbH of Germany to supply the machine for manufacturing three barges, each with 3,500 tonnes at a cost of $10,1134,000.

TPA director general awarded the letter of acceptance to Joh Achelis and Sohne GmbH on January 10, 2012 and the contract required the supplier to deliver the barges within 11 months since signing of the contract on March2, 2011.

The statement says TPA dispatched a team of experts to Germany for inspection of the barges’ capability. They were to be manufactured under the supervision of Bureau Veritas to ensure they met international specifications and standards.