The port of Dar es Salaam benefitted from the minimal Covid-19 containment measures in Tanzania to record a higher cargo throughput in the past year.
Transporters in the Central Corridor enjoyed lower costs of transport compared with those on the Northern Corridor. This is attributed to less Covid restriction-induced delays at border crossings.
According to the latest shippers’ report, Dar es Salaam port saw 4,939 metric tonnes more cargo throughput during Covid-19 pandemic peak time between March 2020 and March 2021 compared with a four percent cargo decline at the port of Mombasa.
The report titled The Impact of Covid-19 on transport and logistics sector in East Africa is compiled by the Shippers Council of East Africa, Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Association and African Economic Research Consortium.
During the period in review, road freight rates on the Northern Corridor from Mombasa to Kampala increased from $2,200 to $2,500 for a 20/40-foot container and rates to Kigali from Mombasa increased from $3,400 to $3,800. It also took 14 to 16 days to move the cargo between the two points, up from the pre-pandemic duration of seven to nine days.
Mombasa to South Sudan took between 21 and 26 days up from the previous nine to 10 days and at a higher cost of $4,500 from $3,600. This delay was brought about by the crossing of two border points (Kenya-Uganda and Uganda-South Sudan) under strict Covid-19 rules.
From Mombasa to DRC, the cost of transport rose from $5,000 to $6,000, duration going up from 10 to 12 days to a high of 30-45 days. Between Nairobi and Zambia, the transport cost went up from $6,000 to $7,000 with the trip taking between 30-32 days as opposed to 10-12 days before.
The report pinpointed the areas of delays on the Northern Corridor and especially at the ports of loading and the exit borders, with transporters having to absorb up to an estimated 48 per cent increase in transport costs.
Until recently, Tanzania did not adopt strict measures such as lockdown as its counterparts in East Africa during the better part of last year.
The report identifies opportunities for automation and digitalisation of Customs and trade facilitation systems and health matters as vital in cross-border trade as trade facilitation measures.
It also notes regional governments’ unpreparedness to handle a pandemic and or emergence of a similar situation in future and recommends professionalising the regional freight logistics industry. There is also a need for infrastructure development through expansion and creation of holding bays.