The Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA) has cancelled its annual conference set to take place in Tanzania in February 2016 following the country’s newly elected President’s decision to sack top figures of Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA).
The conference, which was to be hosted by TPA and PMAESA in Dar es Salaam on February 15-17, 2016, was originally set to take place in November 2015.
George Sunguh, PMAESA’s communications officer, told CM that the conference was postponed to February 2016 as the presidential elections were taking place last year and “the organisers feared there could be violence which could be risky for the delegates”.
Following the discovery that over 2,700 shipping containers were smuggled at the Port of Dar es Salaam tax free, in December 2015 Tanzania’s new president John Magufuli dismissed top managers including the director general and dissolved the port authority’s entire board of directors.
TPA’s director general Awadhi Massawe, TPA’s chairman Joseph Msambichaka and Shaaban Mwinjaka, secretary general of the Ministry of Transport, were dismissed after two surprise visits to the port made by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa unveiled the corruption scam.
Additionally, 13 other senior officials at the port were suspended due to an investigation into claims of corruption and tax evasion.
The racket involved high-value containerised goods being scanned for inspection as low-value products.
PMAESA said in a statement that its 2016 conference, which will be held in Khartoum, Sudan in November 2015, will feature the same speakers and theme of the cancelled conference.
According to PMAESA, a series of meetings which are normally held together with the conference will be rescheduled to a different venue and date to be announced.
Massawe, who was director general of TPA from October 2015 following his role of acting director since February 2015, is the third port chief to be sacked in three years.
Magufuli, who prior of his appointment was Tanzania’s public works minister, was elected president of the country in October 2015.