Tuesday May 26, 2009 TICTS workers strike threat DARIUS MUKIZA, 26th May 2009 @ 00:35, Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) workers are expected to start a full scale strike today, after a go slow yesterday.The workers are demanding payment of their benefits following reports that the government was planning to terminate TICTS contract.The strike would be held while there is congestion at the Dar es Salaam port due to slow clearance of containers. "Today (yesterday), we started a go slow in production. Tomorrow (today), it will be worse. We're not going to do any work," said one worker.Journalists were refused entry into the firm's premises yesterday and advised to contact TICTS Public Relations consultants Executive Solutions on the issue. Last year, Members of Parliament (MPs) raised concern in the House over the controversy surrounding extension of TICTS contract for 25 years.Senior government officials admitted that although privatization brought notable success stories, the government could have negotiated a much better deal. Specifically, they pointed at the annual lease fee and terms of royalty payment, saying the negotiated terms of the contract were woefully low in favour of the private operator. Under the lease agreement, TICTS pays the government an annual lease fee of just $3,680,000 (around 4bn/-). TICTS also gives the government a paltry $13 (around 15,000/-) as royalty for each twenty-foot container that passes through the terminal where an estimated 200,000 of them pass through every year. The Dar es Salaam port's container terminal is still behind its main rival Mombasa in terms of traffic, with the Kenyan port handling around 300,000 containers a year. The two ports are competing for the lucrative business of cargo freight to and from several neighbouring land-locked countries of Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia, Burundi, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). TICTS was in the year 2000 awarded a ten-year contract to operate the terminal after a rigorous process that initially attracted 11 bidders.The contract was to run to the year 2010 but, in a highly controversial move, just halfway through that contract, a directive was issued to extend the lease for 25 years.