Port Facilities


Tanzania is scheduled to sign an agreement with Kuwait, to build the Mwanbani Bay deep water berths, which will allow the port of Tanga to receive bigger ships. Kuwait and Gulf Link Port International (KGLP), will be key players in this project that is expected to be on a build and operate basis, and is estimated will cost about $400 million.

Tanga, situated on the northern coast of Tanzania, close to the Kenyan border, was the first port to be built in the region in the mid nineteenth century, and serves the northern corridor of Tanzania, particularly the Moshi and Arusha regions famous for coffee growing. Its principal exports include coffee, seed beans, sisal fibre, sisal twins and forest products, while the principal import in the area is chemicals, machinery, motor fuel, oil, vehicle materials, consumer goods and food grains.

Currently, the harbour is a lighterage port, where ships are worked in stream buoys by means of lighters and pontoons for loading and off-loading cargo, but this new project will turn the sea inlet into a deep water harbour. It will involve the construction of quays, fenders, rail sidings, the installation of handling equipment, including cranes and storage yards, as well as sheds and administration blocks.

At present, the port consists of a multi-purpose jetty, 12 anchorage berths and a quay for lighterage and local shipping of 3,8m draft. The twelve anchorages range from 5,0 to 12,5m draft and the tanker berth, which uses a pipeline to discharge fuel oil at a quay berth, has a maximum draft of 3,5m.

Services at the port include pilotage, which is compulsory for all deep sea vessels, and stevedoring services to all geared vessels. 10 lighters and 8 pontoons provide lighterage services between anchorages and the lighter quay, 24 hours a day. Facilities include cranes, shore handling equipment and storage. Other facilities include, refrigerated container services, fresh water, ship chandling, firefighting services and medical services.

Annual traffic at present totals 194 000 tons including 66 000 tons of imports and 129 000 tons of exports. This includes 6 500 TEU’s in container traffic, bulk, liquid bulk, and break bulk cargo. More than 90% of annual traffic is moved by road and the balance by rail. Maximum annual handling capacity is 500 000 tons. The shift performance on general cargo is 170 tons per gang and 56 TEU’s on containerised cargo per gang.

With current congestion at the east African ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, it is felt that it is the right time to upgrade this port.


Mtwara port is one of the three major ports managed by Tanzania Harbours Authority. Others are Dar es Salaam and Tanga.

The deep water port at Mtwara was built between 1948 and 1954. Development of the deep water port was accompanied by railway construction from Mtwara and Nachingwea. With the failure of the groundnut scheme, the railway line fell into disuse and is now defunct. The port however, continues to function but is underutilized.

Port Characteristics

The deep water quay is dredged to -9.8 metres chart datum. There are no tidal restrictions for vessels entering and leaving the harbour, but there is an enforcement length restriction of 175 metres due to the shape of the channel, particularly the MSEMO SPIT area.

A sheltered anchorage exists in the inner bay (basin) with good holding ground of –20 metres. The basin can accommodate six vessels of 175 metres. The number of vessels can be increased if numerous shoal patches are removed.

Port Facilities:

  1. Quay Wall: The port has a quay wall of 385 metres which can accommodate two ships and one coastal vessel at a time. The draught is 9.85 metres and with the introduction of new and more reliable solar powered navigational aids, the port will be accessible to ships during 24 hours.
  2. Equipment: Cargo handling equipment include 3 mobile cranes of 25 tons, 15 tons and 4 tons; 4 tractors, 18 trailers, 8 forklifts and 1 front loader of 7.5 tons which can be upgraded to 15 tons. Marine crafts available at the port are 1 pilot boat and 1 mooring boat. The port does not have specialized equipment for handling container traffic because the volume at present does not justify such investment.
  3. Storage: There are four (4) transit sheds with a total storage capacity of about 15,000 tons.
  4. Present Capacity: Mtwara port can handle 400,000 metric tons of imports and exports per annum. The port is mainly designed to handle conventional cargo.
  5. Upgraded Capacity: The port of Mtwara can handle up to 750,000 MT with the same number of berths if additional equipment are put in place for handling containerized traffic.