Bagamoyo port roll out shows the pressure for PPP isn’t high

By Guardian Correspondent , The Guardian
Published at 02:03 PM Apr 17 2024
Bagamoyo port
Bagamoyo port

IT is now official that the government will start the building of Bagamoyo port in the next financial year, as an in-house project conducted by the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA). A sizeable sum of 22bn/-has been slated for the purpose in the new fiscal year, with compensation already conducted to residents in the area whose dwellings in the 887 hectares of the project area will be erased. How far this project is being implemented with ‘force account’ methods is unclear, as 22bn/- isn’t altogether breathtaking at the Treasury, needing no loans to do that.

That the issue was just cash all along was visible in remarks in answer to an MP’s question, where a deputy minister said that the project is at an advanced stage of updating the feasibility study conducted in 2010. Lack of surpluses to pursue the project in-house or loans to build it characterized the mood for more than a decade, that is, until now, but there are some financing ends that need to be looked at closely. The deputy minister said the review and update of the feasibility study was ending, and procurement documents be prepared, soonest. 

What is also at issue is the capacity targeting since Dar port is also being vastly improved, but nobody says there is no role for Bagamoyo port especially for trade sourced in Zanzibar, when it isn’t targeting the city market specifically.  It is also unclear if its status as a fishing port can be improved, though its specific praise in the past was natural deep water harbour, a characteristic that may cut project costs to an extent and thus not place a heavy burden on authorities as to its investment return period. While some would have preferred a saving on public funds via PPP, at times there is reason to avoid controversies that come up, meanwhile as a port entirely operated by an independent firm is unfamiliar.  

Suggesting that the port construction is strategic as it is intended to stimulate industrial and commercial activities in the area and the special economic zone in Bagamoyo District, Coast Region was in a way less than inspiring. There was more talk of its making a difference in central transport corridor but its conditions have somewhat paled as the port of Dar es Salaam will now have much greater capacity than earlier, and the SGR also starting from Dar, altered the picture somewhat. In that case tying Bagamoyo port to the special economic zone is realistic enough as after all plenty is going on in the neighbourhood, especially when eastern DRC finally becomes peaceful and Burundi has a thrust in industry, as well as the city hinterland of Kibaha. Bagamoyo port will not be lacking a role as business shapes up in various directions in the next ten years.