THE government plans to bring back the National Shipping Agencies Corporation to restore sanity in maritime transport business in Tanzania by addressing on-going malpractices in the shipping industry.
The Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Prof Makame Mbarawa tabled in Parliament this month a bill for establishing the corporation and for maritime administration to regulate ports, shipping services, maritime environment, safety and security.
It will be revamping the former NASACO which was privatised in the 1990s and failed to survive after it was weaned off state support. However, we understand, the envisaged entity will be different and will operate in an ever growing technology, competition and generally new environment.
Players in the shipping industry have welcomed the decision to establish the corporation and indeed we cannot agree more with them. They said they believe it would contribute to improve efficiency, reduce costs and curb cheating by some unscrupulous liners.
By promoting effective management and operations of shipping agencies and effective operations of ports and shipping services, the envisaged corporation would contribute to making maritime transport scale new heights in Tanzania.
We understand concerns by Former Secretary General of Tanzania Shipping Agents Association (TASAA), Mr Peter Kirigini, over the failure of the industry to benefit indigenous Tanzanians over ten years since it was liberalised.
We also share the opinion by the Secretary General of Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA), Mr Tony Swai, that establishment of the regulator was long overdue. It was in absence of the regulators many ship liners were operating in a cartel, leading to higher charges for handling shipments at the port.
For many years, many stakeholders, including the Tanzania Seafarers Community (TSC) have reiterated the need for re-establishing the national shipping agency corporation to oversee what is being shipped in and outside the country.
The former NASACO like many other State Owned Enterprises in third world was undermined by poor performance of its role that led to liberalisation of the sector. The rest is history, but what is more important is new developments in the shipping industry have made it necessary to have a regulator.
It is therefore in our view that establishment of the corporation will be an important landmark in efforts to reform maritime transport in Tanzania and ensure it benefits the nation and both local and foreign operators.
Indeed it is high time we had a regulator in the shipping industry to manage and regulate its activities.