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June 12, 2011

Tanzania: 3000 imported tractors stuck at ports

by Al-amani Mutarubukwa

About 3,000 tractors imported under the Kilimo Kwanza initiative are reported to be held at the Dar es Salaam port and in other inland container depots due to misunderstanding on related tax waivers.

Indian businessmen that grabbed opportunity brought by the Kilimo Kwanza initiative to import agro-machinery, have complained that they were discouraged by the bureaucracy at the port during clearance of the farm inputs imported under the initiative.

“Due to that, some traders have not cleared about 3,000 tractors since last October, and as a result, they were supposed to pay some $3 million as storage charges at shipping lines and ICDs,” said Mr Anver Rajpar of Seaforth shipping company at the Symposium on Kilimo Kwanza organised by Tanzania-India Friendship Association.

He appealed to the government to run to intervene, otherwise the whole clearing costs would be passed to farmers by adjusting prices that majority wont afford. Responding to the claims, the deputy permanent secretary from the prime minister’s office, Mr Charles Parangyo said the government had already directed the ship lines and the ICDs to reduce the charges down by 55 per cent and that the government would pay the debt by the remaining 45 per cent.

“The government has already taken initiatives to see the tractors are taken to SUMA-JKT at Mwenge grounds as soon as possible,” he said. During his presentation on “A point of view of the Business Community on Kilimo Kwanza,” by Mr Rajpar said there was a need to educate all organs relating to importation because even as importing of farm implement was duty-free under Kilimo Kwanza, it was still difficult to clear the tools and spares at the port.

Experts say lack of proper arrangement for mechanization could hinder the Agriculture First initiative to bear fruits since only few tractors have been distributed in remote areas.

“Most of the tractors imported are still docked in Dar es Salaam showrooms …the government was supposed to know that Tanzanian farmer cannot afford buying the 80horsepower tractor for tilling his hardly 2-acre farm,” said Prof Lucien Msambichaka, an economist at University of Dar es Salaam.

The Citizen

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