APM Terminals, which operates a number of ports in Africa, has since last year been interested in investing at Dar es Salaam port but reports say the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) is interested in working with an unknown Chinese firm.
China is reportedly planning to invest billions of shillings at Dar es Salaam port to establish a logistical hub that will cater for its business interests in east and central Africa.
The APM Terminals Vice President responsible for business development, Hans Ole Madsen said the company is still negotiating with TPA and the Ministry of Transport to operate Berths 13 and 14 at Dar es Salaam port. “APM Terminals have made various suggestions to Tanzania Ports Authority including assisting TPA on berths 5-6-7 where they currently operate.
In addition APM Terminals have offered to take on the construction of berths 13-14 but the feedback we have so far from the Transport Ministry is that there are ongoing “discussions with Chinese companies, which have given similar offers,” Mr Madsen said in an electronic message while responding to Business Standard questions.
He said the Ministry of Transport is currently re-visiting the company’s proposals to acquire Berths 13 and 14 and that APM Terminals sees a lot of promise in the port of Dar es Salaam where only TPA and Tanzania International Container Terminal Services handle cargo. “We believe that it can only benefit the port and the country to have the entry of another world-class port operator, which would introduce competition at the port to the benefit of all port users,” Madsen said as reports said congestion is returning to the port because of aged equipment being used by TIC TS but also construction work going on at the terminal.
Tanzania Shipping Agents Association (TASAA) Chairman, Emmanuel Mallya said the entry of The Hague based global shipping conglomerate into the country’s market will help improve efficiency and competitiveness but suggested that rather than operate some tiny berths at Dar es Salaam port, APM Terminals had better be given new port development projects at Bagamoyo, Mbegani or Mwambani in Tanga.
“We need new investors who will look at larger port expansion projects not necessarily at Dar es Salaam port but also look elsewhere,” Mr Mallya, who is also a board member of TPA said. He pointed out that a world class port operator and shipping conglomerate like APM Terminals has the potential to assist the country expand its port facilities and suggested that TPA had better invest in Berth 13 and 14 and lease it to an independent operator who will compete with TIC TS to improve services at the prime port.
Netherlands based APM Terminals has significant presence in West Africa where it has a presence at nine ports in eight countries, with several port and terminal facilities currently undergoing expansion. It operates in Apapa, Nigeria, Pointe‐Noire in the Republic of the Congo, Port Said East in Egypt, Luanda port in Angola and the Liberian port of Monrovia.
In a statement after attending an 8th Pan African Ports Conference in Arusha in December 2010, APM Terminals Senior Director for Business Development in Africa, Thomas Hougaard said, “As part of APM Terminal’s long term emerging markets strategy, we have thoroughly investigated the needs of our customers in this market and the business solutions needed for them through a gateway into East Africa.”
Mr Hougaard pointed out that the multinational port operators is willing to work with TPA and the government in developing a second container terminal at the country’s prime port and provide world class services alongside global leader in the field, HPH’s local subsidiary, TIC TS. APM Terminal, HPH and PSA International are the three largest port operators in the world handling over 90 per cent of global trade, according to an Annual Review of Global Container Terminal Operators in 2010.
It ranked HPH as the largest port operator in the world with APM Terminals taking the second slot and PSA International ranked third. Deputy Minister for Transport, Dr Athumani Mfutakamba has strongly supported APM Terminals’ interest to invest at Dar es Salaam port saying Berths 13 and 14 can be given to the Netherlands based conglomerate if it makes a convincing investment offer.
Dr Mfutakamba said Mombasa port in Kenya is currently undergoing major expansion and modernisation with World Bank and several other donors’ funding, but Nairobi is also developing a new port at Lamu in the north east. “If they come with a realistic proposal and we are convinced, there is Berth 13 and 14 at Dar es Salaam port which needs immediate investment,” the minister said when APM Terminals first approached TPA last year.