Tanzania signed a framework agreement with China’s largest port operator China Merchants Holdings International in 2013 to build a port an economic zone that aimed to transform the East African country into a regional trade and transport hub.
But the planned $10 billion (Ksh.1trillion) Tanzania port projects hit a dead end, after Tanzania fell out with China in terms of the infrastructure investment, according to a senior Tanzanian port official.
“The conditions that they have given us are commercially unviable. We said no, let’s meet halfway. It would have been a loss. They shouldn’t treat us like schoolkids and act like our teachers,” Director General of the state-run Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) Deusdedit Kakoko said.
In an emailed statement, China Merchants said that many years of negotiations with the Tanzanian side had failed to result in a legally binding agreement. Tanzania government wrote to Chinese port operator on the disputed matter saying that they are waiting for China to begin new talks and that when they are ready, they will resume the negotiations according to Kakoko.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Lu Kang alluded that China does its best to cooperate with Africa on infrastructure financing, insisting his country looks at the viability of projects with its African partners to ensure their sustainability.
“This project is a purely commercial, investment project and China Merchants Port has in its overseas investments always followed the principles of commercial feasibility and win-win cooperation,” noted the company.
The port was signed in 2013 by Tanzania’s Ex-President Jakaya Kikwete, during a visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the country. Set to be built in Bagamoyo, 75 km north of Dar es Salaam, its construction is yet to kick off despite a groundbreaking ceremony in 2015, held for the project and members of parliament have been pestering the government for an explanation for the delays in implementation of the project.