The post about New-Bagamoyo city port has generated a response by our colleague Enoc Mutahi, and here I want to explain my point of view.

I think that those kind of projects are only low-profile marketing campaigns, having few to do with real issues and real solutions. The problem is very serious, as planning is not about selling images evoking progress, but about to optimize local resources.

  1. Just to mention a few issues:
    It is said that the new port is build for Mega-container, ships, 14.000 TEU, more than 300 m length, more than 15 m draft… but the truth is that the bassin is  100m narrower than the Dar es Salaam ones, and that it will cost a pretty penny to dregge those sands. Who will pay for dregging year rear year? The companies settled on a free-tax area?
  2. The mega-container do not frequent these waters, as their routes pass far away, to Durban and Suez. Actually having not a critical mass in the area, then to divert  them seems unlikely. The world is plenty of ports selling Mega-container calls, but they continue to call few among them.
  3. To say that it will compete with Mombasa harbor, which is 500km away and linked to a transport network that not includes Tanzania, it is just a fallacy, pure marketing. Mombasa is improving their infraestructures, and it’s a very good decision. You can create a port, of course, but to create a city than can dynamize it will be a much harder job.
  4. The alleged problems in Dar-es-Salaam harbor are more a ceficiency problem than a infrastructure limitation. Aa far as I know, they are hardly working on this question.  It is true that being surrounded by a big city, it have certain limitations, but that happens in almost all port-cities of the World.
  5. Bagamoyo is completely disconnected. Speaking of the port and the city without having clear the network that will connect is another fallacy. In fact, the “Plan” does not show any connection other that the old road to DES, nor is predicted how or where would be located such a connection, a new railway for instance. Start a hub-port having not a reliable transport net is put the car before the horse.
  6. A real hub port, designed to exchange containers between ships of varying size, does not need a city. See the African example of Tangier-Med and its complex connections with the city of Tangier. And if the city is not needed, will be not builded.

The port, I’m sure,  will go ahead. Another question is what will move, which I fear will be copper and other raw materials, which may be able to board at a lower cost than DES. The money for this will arrive, for sure. The rest…..

This case  presents similarities to the macroproject of Lamu, but that has it origin in a new transport and includes oil, which always makes things easier.



3 thoughts on “More about new city-ports

  1. Thank you Antonio for throwing more light on the issue..Issues you have raised in Bagamoyo do not in one way or the other differ from the real life planning issues in Sub Saharan Africa…there more of untold stories of failed planning intervations just as a result of failure to asses patnent issues at design level. In fact our seniors tell us of how at one time Kampala Master plan 1972 was one of the best piece of work that had ever been put on paper…Singapore borrowed and duplicated it back home to give birth to the present singapore…we failed to impliment it..the city got out of hand and now im so surprised when the state funds its technocrats to go to singapore to learn lessons from its previous notes…something has to be done on how we do thing back home

    1. The case of Kampala that you Said looks very interesting!
      If you feel like (and have the time), I would love to hang here an article explaining it, even in summary form.
      In Planning it is very important to value the work of the people living in the place, local technicians, because there are too interested in hiring celebrities just because they are out, despite this seems the norm almost everywhere.

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