Mombasa port eyes world class status

A cargo ship at the Mombasa port.

The Port of Mombasa, Kenya's largest seaport has set out a path towards becoming a world-class regional hub under its Masterplan.

According to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), after major infrastructure developments and acquisition of new equipment, the port enhanced its attractiveness for global trade and continues to witness improved business volumes.

Notable infrastructure developments include completion and operationalisation of phase one of the Second Container Terminal and the completion of the expansion of the Inland Container Depot Nairobi (ICDN).

Other key milestones include the construction of the first three berths of the Lamu Port (50 percent complete), expansion of gates and yard capacity and installation of the Integrated Port Security System among others.

''The enhancement of capacity has been marked by key infrastructural investments and modernisation of cargo handling equipment, which have catapulted the port to a regional pole position,'' KPA said in a statement.

KPA said that the Mombasa Port Development Programme (MPDP) is a key cog of the infrastructural development.

The programme, which was to be implemented in three phases, envisaged the construction of a Container Terminal on a total area of 100 hectares and capacity to handle 1.5 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) per annum on completion – making the overall port capacity to over 2.6 million TEUs.

''This new terminal is poised to provide an additional 900 meters of quay length and three (3) berths of 300meters each. The quay length is critical as it indicates the ability to accommodate modern large ships,'' KPA said.

The first phase of the project has been operational since April 2016. KPA said that the Sh28 billion investment has an annual capacity of 550,000 TEUs; - a measure of cargo capacity - also comprises two berths, which are handling increased cargo traffic within the East Africa region. Between June 2017 and June 2018, this facility registered a growth of 59.2 percent after handling 34,837 TEUs compared to 21,882 TEUs handled the previous year.

Construction of the second phase of the Second Container Terminal commenced on 1st September this year.  Upon completion it will increase the Port’s annual capacity by an additional 450,000 TEUs. Once phases 2 and 3 are complete, the total capacity of the Second Container Terminal will be 1.5 million TEUs, raising the Port’s total container handling capacity to 2.65million TEUs by 2025.

''The recent capacity expansion including initial dredging of the port channel, berth construction, upgrading of equipment and ICT Systems has given the Port of Mombasa a competitive advantage,'' added KPA.

The Port can now accommodate bigger vessels with larger capacities hence offering competitive services occasioned by economies of scale.

The Port of Mombasa is currently the deepest in the East and Central African region and can accommodate Panamax container ships of up to 8,000 TEUs.

The shipping industry is shifting towards larger vessels. The Authority is also dredging the navigational and anchorage basins, and installing modern navigation aids to allow access of post panamax vessels.

This has enabled the port to handle bigger vessels. On Wednesday last week, the Port registered a new performance record of 1450 moves within an eight hour shift in the container operations, a record set by Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) container vessel MSC Maxine in her maiden call at the Port.

The vessel with a container capacity of 9,411 TEUs, is now the largest container carrier in terms of capacity to dock at the Port while the longest vessel remains MV. MSC Portugal with an overall length of 304.07 meters which docked at the Port in April this year.

MSC. Maxine has an overall length of 300m, a breadth of 48 m, height of 62 m and deadweight of 110,629 tonnes and a gross tonnage of 94469.

In August 2015, one of the largest ships MV Clemens Schulte docked at the port. The vessel, spanning a length of 255 meters and 37.5 meters wide, with a capacity of 5,466 TEUS offloaded 1,710 TEU’s and loaded 3,505 export containers.

In the succeeding years (2016 and 2017), other large vessels namely; MV Ital Mattina and MV Ever Delight with a total length of 264 and 294 metres respectively also successfully docked at the port of Mombasa. 

The implementation of the Strategy has seen the Port to continue witnessing improved performance attributed to investment in modern infrastructure, associated equipment and automation of port operational processes. In 2017 the Port handled a total cargo throughput of 30.35 million tons up from 27.36 million tons handled in 2016, representing an increase of 10.9 percent.

Container traffic registered a performance of 1.190 million TEUs up from 1.091 million TEUs handled in 2016 translating to a growth of 98,586 TEUs or 9.0 percent.

“This growth is way above the international average of 5 percent”, says KPA Acting Managing Director Dr. Arch. Daniel Manduku.

The Port of Mombasa serves over 33 Shipping Lines that call regularly and provides connectivity to over 80 seaports worldwide.

KPA also announced that the Cargo Dwell Time has almost halved to 3.5 days against 7.1 days in 2012.

''The average Ship Turnaround Time has also reduced to 2.6 days against 4.4 days in 2012. These two performance indicators are already improving with the increasing cargo uptake via the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to the upgraded Inland Container Depot (ICD), and the improved road network hinterland,'' the Authority explained.

Other projects outlined in the Master Plan to bolster Mombasa port position include the development of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Dongo Kundu.

As part of the Vision 2030 the Government of Kenya committed to the development of the SEZ at Dongo Kundu (3,000 acres of land owned by the Authority) which will include a Freeport area.

The Kipevu Oil Terminal (KOT) is also being converted into a bigger oil terminal to better serve the vast oil reserves that are currently being explored in Kenya and the rest of the region.

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