UGANDA prefers to use the central corridor through Tanzania rather than the northern corridor via Kenya to export its merchandise via the Indian Ocean because it is more cost-effective, the country’s works and transport minister Bagiire Aggrey said yesterday.
According to Bagiire, water transport is the most preferred mode for transportation of bulk imports and exports, and its contribution to economic development as a whole cannot be under-appreciated.
He was speaking in Dar es Salaam during the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with his Tanzanian counterpart, Works, Transport and Communications Minister Prof Makame Mbarawa, on bilateral cooperation in improving ports, inland waterways and railway transport services.
“Uganda and Tanzania need to jointly promote trade and economic integration by enhancing their ports, marine transport, and railway corridors for mutual and sustainable socio-economic development,” Bagiire said.
Giving an example, he noted that the cost of transporting coffee by rail is $120 per ton, while with an efficient and effective water transport system, the cost of transporting coffee would be just $60 per ton.
This means the government of Uganda could save $40 million per year as a result of having in place an efficient and effective water transport system, he said.
The Ugandan minister said the two neighbouring countries need to develop and maintain rational, coordinated and mutually beneficial systems of transport and related communication infrastructure and services along the central corridor.“This will help promote regional trade, stimulate economic growth and investment, generate employment and revenue, and improve foreign exchange generation,” Bagiire explained.
He added that transporting goods to and from Uganda through the central corridor from the port of Dar es Salaam is a good way of reducing the cost of doing business and fostering regional economic development.
On his part, Prof Mbarawa said the purpose of the new MoU is to strengthen bilateral trade cooperation by attracting more Ugandan cargo traffic to the port of Dar es Salaam.
“This agreement is very important for both Tanzania and Uganda,” the Tanzanian minister noted.
He expressed confidence that once the ongoing central corridor Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project is completed, cargo traffic between Dar es Salaam and Kampala will only take 24 hours to and fro.
Both governments must work seriously to make this happen if they want to make life easy for traders from the two countries, he said.
Currently, cargo trucks plying the Dar es Salaam-Kampala and vice versa routes normally take at least four days to and fro. According to Mbarawa, the first target is to reduce this to two days.
Meanwhile, according to Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) director general Eng. Deusdedit Kakoko, the port’s demand for transport services is growing and requires a significant increase in capacity.
Kakoko said the port authority is ready to assume a key role in linking Ugandan producers and traders to international markets.