Dozens of ships now stranded at Dar port :No official explanation so far A NEW TYPE OF CONGESTION? At least four cargo-laden sea vessels are pictured making a bee-line just outside the port's main entrance yesterday. THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam FOREIGN ships are beginning to form a long queue at the port of Dar es Salaam's outer anchorage because of what has been described as inefficiencies in cargo unloading plus delays in customs clearance, it has been learned. A THISDAY survey conducted on Thursday night counted at least 19 sea vessels at the anchorage, and neither port authorities nor stakeholders could immediately explain what the problem was. When contacted yesterday, Tanzania Port Authority's Senior Public Affairs Manager Franklin Mziray said he was not in a position to comment. ''I can't give you information over the phone since I don't know you...maybe we should meet physically,'' Mziray told our reporter in a telephone interview, saying he was in Dodoma. The chairmen of both the Tanzania Shipping Agents Association (TASAA) and Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA), Emmanuel Mallya and Otieno Igogo respectively, were also reluctant to comment on the matter. However, an official with the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA), speaking on condition of remaining anonymous, asserted that the problem was with TPA. ''It is TPA that should be blamed for this mess. They said over 700 containers have been removed from the port, which in effect suggested that more space has been created for new cargo. So why then are these ships stranded?,'' the SUMATRA official remarked in an interview with THISDAY. Offering an official government position on the matter, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Omary Chambo, said when contacted yesterday that it was too early to note the impact of ships congestion at the port. According to Chambo, there were ''even more ships at the anchorage'' before the recently-formed presidential task force to tackle the perennial containers congestion problem at the port began its work. ''We should give the task force enough time to do its work...after all, it is barely three days since they started the work,'' said the PS. Comprising representatives of various industry bodies like TPA, the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), shipping agencies and clearing and forwarding agencies, the task force is expected to come up with workable strategies for decongesting the port. Chambo said since there are so many players involved in the port operations, the task force should be given enough time to make a proper assessment of the causes and consequences, along with possible solutions of the congestion problem. Some progress has already been reported in efforts to solve the problem, with the state-run TPA recently announcing that over 700 containers have so far been transferred from the congested port area to inland container depots (ICDs) around the city. But various users of the region's major port facility remain unhappy about the situation, with the Canadian gold mining giant Barrick Tanzania recently stating a newfound preference for the Mombasa port in Kenya to Dar es Salaam. Barrick Tanzania spokesman Teweli Teweli was quoted by the media as stating that cargo transported through the Dar port is too often subjected to clearing delays due to bureaucracy, unlike the Mombasa port. According to Teweli, although it costs $4,000 for the gold mining company to transport incoming cargo from Mombasa by road to Kahama in Shinyanga Region while the same cargo would be charged only $2,500 to be transported from Dar es Salaam by rail to the same area, Barrick Tanzania still prefers Mombasa because of faster cargo clearance.