DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has directed government institutions at the port of Dar-es-Salaam -- one of the two major ports in East Africa along with Kenya's Mombasa port -- to operate 24 hours a day and seven days a week (24/7), beginning Monday to reduce dwell time and to make it competitive.

The Prime Minister said during the 10th Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) meeting here Sunday that all government institutions, including the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) and Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), should reschedule their working hours to enable the port operate to operate 24/7.

From tomorrow (Monday), I want implementation of this directive, he said at the meeting in response to complaints of inefficiency at the port from the Chairperson of the Tanzania Truck Owners Association, Angelina Ngalula, who said that dwell time at the port was between 10 and 13 days which makes it uncompetitive as Mombasa Port had a dwell time of three to four days.

She added that there was lack of co-ordination between government institutions which contributed to delays in cargo clearance at the port. "No one is bothering to know why cargo clearance takes that long. There are so many institutions, but they have no co-ordination, she complained.

The Prime Minister said the government understands red tape.

The World Bank said in 2015 that inefficiencies at Dar-es-Salaam Port cost Tanzania and its neighbours up to 2.6 billion US dollars a year. Kenya's Mombasa port, which is the largest in the region, is much more efficient. If Dar es Salaam Port reached the same level of efficiency as Mombasa, the economy will gain almost 1.8 billion US dollars a year, according to a World Bank analysis.

Tanzania signed a 565 million USD agreement in 2014 with the World Bank and other development partners to expand the port, part of plans to boost the nation's role as a regional trade hub. President John Magufuli sacked top management of Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) in 2015 as part of a campaign to root out corruption and inefficiency in the government.

According to the International Association of Ports and Harbours, Dar-es-Salaam is the fourth largest port on the African continent's Indian Ocean coastline after Durban, Mombasa and Maputo. The port acts as a gateway for commerce and trade for Tanzania and numerous bordering landlocked nations.