Rwanda’s private sector and business community are decrying the delayed handing over of three inland depots by Kenya, Tanzania and Djibouti to them for further development and use.
Rwanda had sought these depots in order to avoid using the congested Mombasa and Dar-es-Salaam ports, that cause delays in the delivery of imports and exports.
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While Kenya and Tanzania are yet to grant Rwanda its request, Djibouti suspended the country’s acquisition of the depot on environmental grounds.
Talks still ongoing
“We are still in negotiations for full acquisition of the depots before we develop them,” said Ephrem Karangwa, the head of trade affairs at the Private Sector Federation.
Rwanda has been holding negotiations with its regional counterparts since 2008.
“We don’t know how soon we will get these depots but we are building a model of how we intend to develop them, which we shall implement promptly,” said Mr Karangwa.
The model includes warehouses, inland container depots, container freight, clearing services and parking yard.
However, in the 1980s, Rwanda received the go-ahead from Tanzania to develop the inland port in Dar es Salaam, but when the regime of the day failed to show interest, Somalia occupied it and now the government is fighting tooth and nail to repossess it.
“Evicting Somalis from the Dar es Salaam depot has not been fast tracked, while the possession of other ports in different countries has been hampered by corruption,” said Francois Kanimba, Rwanda’s minister of trade and industries.
Rwanda imports goods worth over $1.2 billion or 25 per cent of the country’s GDP annually, through the Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports.
“We are working out modalities of developing the ports; the government will partner with private investors to reduce the costs,” added Mr Kanimba.
The Isaka depot, which connects to the seaport of Dar es Salaam, is 17.5 hectares, the Mombasa parcel is 12.8 hectares while the Djibouti land has been increased from 20 to 40 hectares.
Previously, the government projected to have the Isaka plot as a dry port, a decision which was later changed as feasibility studies proved it was not viable due to a planned railway line that is expected to pass through the same area.
The Isaka dry port was chosen because it is close to Rwanda and is commonly used by the latter’s business community.
Isaka is 485km away from Kigali, compared with Dar es Salaam port, which is 982km away.
It is estimated that importers pay $5,500 per 27 tonne of cargo truck here, including transit clearance, while the Mombasa port charges $6,000 on the same cargo for a period of two weeks.
For the Mombasa port, Rwanda paid arrears of land taxes to the tune of Rwf43 million ($0.07 million) up to 2011.