Mtwara port is one of the three major ports managed by Tanzania Ports 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.
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.
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.
Cargo handling equipment include 3 mobile cranes of 25 tonnes, 15 tonnes and 4 tonnes; 4 tractors, 18 trailers, 8 forklifts and 1 front loader of 7.5 tonnes which can be upgraded to 15 tonnes. 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 investmen
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 tonnes 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 containerised traffic.