The cost of imports passing through Dar es Salaam Port in Tanzania is expected to ease following the operationalisation of Mbeya Dry Port in that country by the Malawi Cargo Centre Limited (MCCL).
The port’s operation will reduce the distance from Songwe on the border between Malawi and Tanzania, to Dar es Salaam Port. From Songwe to Mbeya, it is 120 kilometres (km) while from Songwe to Dar es Salaam, it is 1 000 km.
MCCL–Dar es Salam logistics manager Gerald Ndowera, who confirmed the ease in import costs, said in a written response on Wednesday that MCCL Dar es Salaam Corridor concept was designed to have the cargo moved from MCCL Dar es Salaam to Mbeya Dry Port by Tazara Railways and, thereafter, delivery to various points into Malawi by road.
He said, so far, petroleum products and agricultural inputs have been using this multimodal system in the past.
Ndowera, however, said to make the corridor even more cost-effective and efficient, Tanzanian Government alongside various stakeholders are clearing some bottlenecks so that Malawian importers, including motor vehicle importers, can also benefit.
He said: “Tanzanian Government with various stakeholders are clearing some bottlenecks such as customs systems and documentation, bureaucratic procedures, facilitation policies and regulations as well as safety and security aspects.
“Using MCCL Mbeya Dry Port is beneficial to Malawi importers because it is closer to our border and, therefore, people can travel short distance and even return same day,” he said.
While urging full utilisation of the corridor, Ndowera said that this is one way of implementing the Malawi Government’s National Transport Master Plan, which recognises the strategic position of MCC Mbeya Dry Port as one gateway to Malawi import and exports.
National Working Group on Trade Policy chairperson Frederick Changaya said streamlining border clearing processes narrows time and transactional expenses which is good for business.
“It also reduces the overall import bill. This improves the value of our wealth as as well as value for companies,” he said.
Being a landlocked country, Malawi relies on its neighbours such as Mozambique and Tanzania for their ports.
A recent United Nations Economic Report indicated that Malawi’s transport sector account for 56 percent of landed transport costs and 30 percent of import and export cost.
Government resorted to using Tanzania as its offshore port; hence, was given land by the Tanzanian Government to enable MCCL build tanks at Mbeya and Dar es Salaam.