Tanzania on Sunday signed agreements with Dubai state-owned ports operator DP World to operate part of the Dar es Salaam port for 30 years, a deal that has previously been opposed by Tanzania opposition and rights groups.
Plasduce Mbossa, director general of state-owned Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) which currently manages the port, said DP World will lease and operate four of the 12 berths at the country's largest port.
Dar es Salaam also serves landlocked nations in east and southern Africa like Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and copper producer Zambia.
He said the government signed a Host Government Agreement (HGA) and lease and operation agreements with DP World to operate berths four to seven at the port. The government is looking for other investors to operate berths eight to 11, he said.
"The contract has a 30 years limit and DP World performance will be evaluated after every five years," Mbossa said.
He said the partnership with DP World will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the port by reducing cargo clearance time and increasing port capacity to process 130 vessels per month compared with the current 90.
DP World's Chairman and Chief Executive Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said at the signing ceremony in the capital Dodoma that the company will invest $250 million over the next five years to upgrade the port, focusing on improving cargo clearing systems and eliminating delays.
"We will strengthen the port's role as a maritime gateway for the copper belt and other important green energy minerals,” he said.
In June, parliament passed a resolution endorsing the bilateral agreement between Tanzania and Dubai emirate that paved the way for the specific agreements between Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) and DP World.
However, the agreement sparked opposition from the public including the Catholic church, lawyers, activists and opposition politicians who said the terms favored DP World and offered little benefit to Tanzania. President Samia Suluhu Hassan said her administration had considered all views during the negotiations with DP World.
(Reuters - Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Hugh Lawson)