Mombasa port records brisk business as more ships dock

A crane loads a container into a cargo ship at Mombasa Port. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

The port of Mombasa will receive 40 vessels in the next two weeks, signalling continued robust business at the country’s largest seaport.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) in its latest cargo movement report released this week said 23 container ships with assorted loose cargo will be handled during this period.

Six car carriers and four oil tankers will also offload motor vehicle units and discharge petroleum products.

Among the vessels that are lined up or have called at the port include Epic St Vincent, carrying butane cargo, Tavistock Square laden with Jet A 1 fuel and Maersk Brookly with containerised cargo.

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) trio of MSC Nikole, MSC Kritika and MSC Sky II are also on the high seas heading towards the port of Mombasa to deliver containerised cargo.

Other vessels expected to call at the port are carrying bulk fertiliser, bulk wheat, bagged rice, and bulk iron ore.

Carrying capacity

KPA acting Managing Director John Mwangemi said the port recorded a steady rise in vessels with an overall length of more than 250 metres with a carrying capacity of 6000 TEUs (twenty feet equivalent) in recent times. A total of 1,635 vessels were called at the port last year.

Meanwhile, the port of Mombasa remains resilient in the development of paths as outlined in its strategic plan for 2018-2022.

In a statement, KPA said it will improve services and invest in infrastructure development and capacity expansion programme ahead of schedule.

“To this end, KPA has progressed in the development of phase II of the second container terminal which has seen the construction of berth 22 with a depth of 15 metres and a length of 300 metres and a capacity of 450,000 TEUs,’’ KPA said.

KPA noted that the development of the Shimoni fishing port in Kwale County and the revival of the regional shipping industry on Lake Victoria will boost the transport sector and help revitalise Kisumu port.

Additionally, KPA has acquired a tug boat to be deployed to Lamu, signalling increased interest in the upgrading of Kenya’s second-largest seaport.

KPA Chairman General (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana said since the commissioning of the port last year by former President Uhuru Kenyatta, they have been using equipment that had been transferred from Mombasa port.

“With such an arrangement, we have also had to incur huge expenses from time to time whenever we ferry equipment from the port of Mombasa to facilitate services such as pilotage and tugging,” said Kibwana.

Lamu port

The arrival of the 29-metre long tugboat with 85 tonnes Bollard Pull capacity from Turkey was marked with a harbour lap, salute and berthing at the Dockyard Jetty.

He says the move actualised KPA’s plans to kit Lamu port with its equipment.

“The delivery of MV Pate is a step in the right direction. The vessel’s capacity to handle port operations for all kinds and sizes of vessels safely, efficiently and effectively, gives us a sigh of relief. Her arrival is timely for the Port of Lamu,” Kibwana said.

The Azimuth Stern Drive tugboat was built by a Turkish company Med Marine in collaboration with Kenya Shipyards Ltd for Sh1.4 billion.

It boasts of a bollard pull of 85 tonnes - fitted with two Caterpillar main engine series CAT 3516C–HD, screw Rolls Royce propulsion system, modern winches, and firefighting system.

Kibwana noted that the KPA board and management have progressed plans to acquire more equipment in phases, parallel with the ongoing construction of the port and its supporting infrastructure.

“For instance, besides this tugboat, we are expecting an additional three mobile harbour cranes to make a total of five for the port. We have also progressed plans to purchase three ship-to-shore gantry cranes, three rubber tyred gantry cranes and four terminal tractors for the port,” he said.

Mr Mwangemi said the acquisition of the new tugboat was part of KPA’s bid to boost emerging industry needs of the future based on maritime trade trends and market needs.

He noted that the parastatal had embarked on robust equipping of the Lamu Port to maximise its operational capabilities. “The delivery of MV Pate Tugboat is part of the port of Lamu’s marine vessels fleet, which will exclusively offer tugging services for vessels calling Lamu port,” he said.

Initially, Lamu port relied on the dispatch of tugs from Mombasa whenever a vessel called, contributing to high operational costs and time.

“The arrival of this tugboat is, therefore, a welcome relief as it would exclusively serve the port of Lamu where it would be stationed permanently,” Mwangemi said, noting that MV Pate has superior features that would see it serve the port for 20 years.

Mr Mwangemi noted that KPA was also in the process of tendering a pilot and mooring boats to further streamline marine operations at Lamu port.

“We now have a fleet of seven tugboats, four mooring and pilot boats, and a pollution control and security boat each. These developments give us the confidence to be able to market our services globally,” he said.