Dar, Djibouti choke with congestion as Mombasa Port comes to the rescue

The vessel, Jolly Oro, docks at Mombasa Port. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

December is a peak season in the shipping business. Tonnes of cargo usually make it to the ports in anticipation for the huge festive season.

This year has not been different. But while congestion has been a big problem at the ports of Dar Es Sallam and Djibouti, Mombasa has witnessed a flawless flow of cargo.

Data from the Ports of Africa shows 38 ships were waiting for space to dock in Dar es Salaam and 18 in Djibouti as of Wednesday, sparking fears of demurrage costs. Some ships have been waiting for a month to dock.

According to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), some ships destined for Tanzania are now being diverted to Mombasa Port.

On Wednesday, MV Jolly Oro, which was expected to off load its cargo at Dar es Salaam Port docked at Mombasa Port to discharge 510 containers belonging to Tanzanian importers, as confirmed by KPA Managing Director William Ruto confirmed.

Ignazio Messina, a global shipping line, logistics manager Massimiliano Riccardi confirmed yesterday that MV Jolly Oro was forced to sail to Mombasa Port to discharge 510 containers which were destined for Dar es Salaam.

“Ignazio Messina Shipping Line has decided to be sailing to Mombasa to discharge its cargo because there is no delay at the facility,” said Riccardi.

Speaking at Mombasa Terminal berth 22, Riccardi said the containerised goods ordered by Tanzania businessmen specifically for Christmas were in danger of not reaching clients in Dar es Salaam on time.

“Mombasa Port is more efficient. Turn-around time for ships is only two days,” said Riccardi. In Mombasa, Ports of Africa, which reports on activities in African ports, shows that only one ship was waiting for space to dock in Mombasa.

It attributed this to increased efficiency due to modernisation and expansion. “The more hours a ship stays at the port waiting to offload, the higher the cost of shipping. Waiters suffer high costs,” said KPA boss William Ruto.

A waiter is a ship yet to find space or berth to offload or load cargo. According to the shipping list, only MV Cul Manila was waiting for space to dock in Mombasa.

“KPA has invested in modern equipment, expanding the berths, training and embracing technology to make doing business at the port easy,” said Ruto

The MD said MV Cul Manila made its maiden voyage to Mombasa Port on November 30. He dismissed claims that Dar-es-Salaam port is more efficient than Mombasa.

MV Cul Manila will be discharging 600 metric tonnes of cargo. According to Dar es Salaam’s daily 14-day shipping list, the 38 ships waiting to berth sailed to the port last month.

Shipping and Logistics has established that MV Fortune Hero, which sailed into Dar es Salaam on November 11 this year with general cargo, is yet to berth.

MV Yangoze Dawn anchored at the same port with general cargo and vehicles, is still waiting to berth, says the list.

According to the list, some ships that were supposed to discharge their cargo last month have to wait until December 7 when they will get space.

Ruto said the ships docking in various ports in East Africa are facing delays because some of the managers of those ports have not invested in modern equipment.

Among other African ports facing massive congestion are Durban in South Africa which has 43 waiters, Beira has 27 waiters. On Friday last week, Maputo Port had 13 ships waiting, Richard Bay Port in South Africa also has 34 ships.

Mombasa Port is waiting for MV TC Crown sailing into the port with 50,100 tonnes of wheat this month.

Ruto expressed confidence that this year the port will handle more imports and exports than last year. He said the berth occupancy last month had already surpassed November’s performance.

He said Mombasa Container Terminal had already recorded 76 per cent berth occupancy by November 30.

“In 2022, the berth occupancy hit 75.2 per cent at Mombasa Container Terminal; Kipevu Oil Terminal recorded 82 per cent, Shimanzi Oil Terminal 60 per cent and Mbaraki Wharf berth 50 pe rcent,” said Ruto.

Last year recorded only two cruise ships that brought 1,336 tourists.


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