People stand on a quay at the port in Zanzibar on January 7, 2013. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)
(AFP) – Dubai logistics giant DP World signed three contracts on Sunday with the Tanzanian government to operate part of Dar es Salaam’s port for 30 years under a controversial deal covering all the country’s ports.
The new contracts give DP World exclusive management of four of the city docks’ 12 moorings and of four more in partnership with the Tanzania Port Authority.
The contracts will be reviewed every five years, said TPA director general Plasduce Mbossa.
The signings follow an intergovernmental agreement inked last October by President Samia Suluhu Hassan paving the way for DP World to manage all the ports in Tanzania in consultation with the government.
It was ratified by parliament in June, sparking protest.
Critics of the deal say it poses a threat to Tanzanian sovereignty and security, but the government has argued it will improve efficiency, cut costs and increase revenues.
DP World CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said the move will allow the company “to upgrade Dar es Salaam port into a world-class facility, building even a greater logistics hub for Tanzania.”
The Dubai government-controlled firm has pledged to invest $250 million over the next five years in the port, one of biggest on the African continent.
At least two dozen people have been arrested since June for opposing the deal, according to Amnesty International, although some have since been released.
Lawyer Rugemeleza Nshala was among those freed and said he was forced to leave the country in July after intimidation and death threats.
“We have considered views by different groups before signing this deal” said President Hassan.
She came to power in March 2021 after the death of her autocratic predecessor John Magufuli promising more political freedom.
– ‘Make the contract public’ –
But critics labelled her a “dictator” after Freeman Mbowe, leader of the Chadema opposition party, was arrested on terrorism charges in July 2021 before being released.
Chadema was among those opposing the deal which gives DP World exclusive rights for a period of 12 months to negotiate with the government on how best to manage the country’s 80 ports.
ACT-Wazalendo opposition party leader Zitto Kabwe and Tanzania’s Catholic church head Charles Kitima had also come out against the deal but attended Sunday’s signing.
“Some of our proposals have been taken into account,” ACT-Wazalendo said in a statement. “But we are still insisting that the contract be made public.”
In June, Transport Minister Makame Mbarawa told parliament that the investment by DP World would improve the performance of Tanzanian ports, allowing more ships to dock there.
“The cost of transit cargo will also drop by almost half,” he said.
© Agence France-Presse