The Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) has seen a surge in revenue at the port of Dar es Salaam, from $18 million in November to $31 million in December, following the suspension of 16 port officers accused of improper conduct.
Among the high-level port officials suspended were TPA Director General Ephraim Mgawe, as well as various other port directors and managers who were relieved of their duties in August.
The ongoing investigation has found that port employees were diverting business from Dar es Salaam port to their own companies, all of which have ceased operating. Cargo is normally unloaded in seven days, and if it is not cleared in that time companies are hit with extra charges on top of the usual $400 fee to clear a 6-12m container.
Transport minister Harrison Mwakyembe said that intentional delays by "unscrupulous employees" constituted a direct conflict of interest with their employer, the government. He said that his ministry had received complaints that some companies had waited up to eight weeks for their containers to be unloaded at Dar es Salaam, while the same service could be completed within one week at Mombasa port in neighbouring Kenya.
Mwakyembe said his ministry is considering operating the port on a temporary 24-hour basis to clear the backlog of containers waiting to be processed.
The TPA board of directors are set to convene soon to make a final decision regarding the employment status of the suspended officials, against whom official charges have yet to be filed.