We are left with only 27pc of business, say shipping agents

06Jul 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
We are left with only 27pc of business, say shipping agents

THE Tanzania Shipping Agents Association (TASAA) said yesterday that decisions by the government to give exclusive mandate of shipping activities to the state-run Tanzania Shipping Agencies Corporation (TASAC) leaves them handling only 26.67 percent of the vessels.

However, TASAC said on Tuesday that its exclusive mandate in a number of functions will not push out private sector business, insisting that it intends to maintain a level playing field for competition among stakeholders.

In their response, private shipping agencies expressed fears that the regulator may in future take over all shipping activities as per the recently endorsed law.

TASAA Executive Secretary Abel Uronu said in an interview that the regulator is not promoting competition. “It has monopolized the industry by taking almost 73.33 percent of all activities.”

“TASAC will be an exclusive agent for vessels berthing at 11berths out of the 15 available,” said Uronu, insisting that the move threatens the very existence of private shipping agents and freight forwarders.

Last month, the National Assembly passed the Witten Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, No.3 of 2019 which gave exclusive mandate to TASAC to handle shipping agency functions including tanker ships, car carrier vessels, cruise vessels, exhibition vessels, casual callers, chartered vessels and military ships.

The Tanzania Shipping Agencies Act (Act No. 14 of 2017) exclusively empowers TASAC to carry out clearing and forwarding functions involving the importation and exportation of minerals, mineral concentrates, mining machinery and some other sensitive cargo categories.

With the new law TASAC operates as sector regulator with exclusive clearing and forwarding functions.

Addressing journalists early this week, TASAC Director General Emanuel Ndomba said that despite the powers given to it by the law, the agency will maintain a level playing field for competition among stakeholders.

In a recent public notice, TASAC categorically restricted importers, exporters, clearing and forwarding agents, employers and their representatives from carrying out port clearance and forwarding activities of goods stipulated in Section 7(1)(a) of the Act with effect from March 4, 2019.

This rubbed private shipping and clearing agents who protested the move, terming it a plot to edge them out of business altogether.

In its reaction, the Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA) called for dialogue with the government before the state-run shipping agency became operational, saying that hundreds of jobs were at stake.

TAFFA also complained that it does not understand why the law has allowed the regulator to take the role of a business competitor and at the same time be responsible for formulating guidelines to govern the sector.