The governments of Uganda and Tanzania today July 13 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Joint Ministerial Co-operation for Improvement of Ports, Lake Victoria Inland Waterways and Railway Transport Services.
The MoU was signed in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania by Prof. Makame Mbarawa, Minister of Works, Transport and Communications of Tanzania and Hon. Aggrey Henry Bagiire, State Minister of Works and Transport (Transport) of Uganda.
In his remarks, Prof. Mbarawa, noted that the MOU paves the way and aim to facilitate the use of Dar-es-Salaam Port by Uganda as an alternative route to the sea using the Central Corridor.
He stated that this is a clear testimony to the importance that Uganda attaches to Dar-es-Salaam Port as a link in the Central Corridor linking Tanzania and Uganda.
The Minister pointed out that the current link to Uganda is through Lake Victoria, which is limited since only two ferries are functioning.
To this extent, both Tanzania and Uganda are committed to providing additional ferries. On its part, Tanzania is building a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) which will enable cargo to move from the Port of Dar-es-Salaam to Mwanza within 11 hours.
The new development will make cargo movement from by ferry to Port Bell take about 10 to11 hours and a maximum of 24 hours to move from the Port of Dar-es-Salaam to Kampala.
On his part, Bagiire, underscored the fact that the government of Uganda has set a target of attaining a middle-income status by 2020 and an efficient and effective and low cost transport, which will in part by facilitated by this timely MoU.
Bagiire emphasized that Uganda is desirous of the use of the Central Corridor to attain a middle-income status.
In this regard, the Uganda Government is building a new port at Bukasa, will rehabilitate the 11 km road from Portbell to Kampala as well as refurbish about 250 train wagons to service transportation of goods through the Central Corridor.
Bagiire also raised the issue of high Road User charges for trucks from Uganda where Tanzania currently levies $500 for each truck while Uganda charges only $40 per truck from Tanzania.
He said the high charges inhibit the use of the port of Dar Es Salaam by Ugandan trades since it increases the cost of transportation.
He therefore appealed to his Tanzanian counterpart to consider revising the rates downwards, hence lowering the cost of cargo transportation through the Port of Dar-es-Salaam in order to attract more traders to use the Port.
The Minister also appealed to the Government of Tanzania to expedite the process of joining the One Area Network, which will also contribute to reduction in the cost of doing business.
Currently, he noted, it is very costly to make calls between the two countries.
In this regard, Hon. Bagiire said the Government of Uganda will soon present a formal letter on this request and appealed to the Tanzanian side to work with Uganda to resolve the issue within the next three months.