Mombasa container cargo up 12pc as Dar struggles with congestion

Mombasa Port registered a 12 percent annual growth this year, compared with last year, as it continues to benefit from increasing delays at the regional ports, especially Dar es Salaam.

The recent influx of ships to the port has forced the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to designate Berth 5, which has been handling conventional cargo, to accommodate containerised cargo.

Data released on Thursday by KPA, Mombasa recorded 1,593,451 million twenty-feet equivalent units (TEUs) as of December 27, 2023, and it projects to clock 1.6 million containers by year end, compared with last year’s 1,449, 843 containers.

KPA Managing Director Capt William Ruto said this is the highest container throughput that the port has recorded the since its inception.

“With at least 12 more ships expected to dock in Mombasa before December 31, we expect the figures to grow to 1,635,400 containers,” Capt Ruto said.

The port recorded highest number of containerised cargos in the past three months of the year, handling 131,717 containers in October, 147,755 in November, and 164,730 this month.

To address a looming crisis following diversion of cargo to Mombasa as a result of inefficiencies at other regional ports, Capt Ruto said KPA has designated Berth 5 to handle containers.

“We are not competing with Dar es Salaam which is currently facing delays, but we are complementing them. We have received a number of ships that opted for Mombasa to deliver Tanzanian cargo,” Capt Ruto told The EastAfrican on Thursday.

Last week, shippers raised fears of delays at the port of Mombasa due to influx of vessels after port of Dar es Salaam suspended bagging of cargo to reduce the number of ships waiting at the facility.

The Shippers Council of East Africa (SCEA) has asked KPA to put in place contigency plans to ensure shippers are served efficiently.

“We are worried even as we celebrate the increased number vessels calling at the port of Mombasa after some opted to terminate here. Shippers from the region are opting to use Mombasa during these challenging times. There is a need to maintain efficiency,” said SCEA chief executive Gilbert Lagat.

Capt Ruto said he will expand container handling berths, increase automation of services, acquisition of modern ship and cargo-handling equipment and improved partnerships with key government agencies and stakeholders.

The Port of Mombasa has a contingent of 16 ship-to-shore gantries (STSs), 25 reach stackers, 27 empty container handlers, 58 rubber-tyred and eight rail-mounted gantries.

Last year, the authority received three brand-new STSs, which were installed at the newly completed Berth 22 that has been operational ever since.

In August, this year, KPA acquired and installed another four STSs, which are twin-lift-enabled, replacing the aged single-lift STSs at Berth 16, enhancing ship turnaround time.

Amin Mohammed, a Tanzania fresh produce dealer, said that in Dar es Salaam port, it takes 14 days to book empty containers for export, compared with two days in Mombasa, “that is why we opted to use Kenya.”

Source: The East African

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