Port records high cargo volumes despite harsh economic times

A general view of the container terminal at night at the Port of Mombasa. [Robert Menza, Standard]

The Port of Mombasa has registered improved inbound and outbound cargo handling.

The port recorded an increase in cargo throughput, reduced ship waiting time and vessel turnaround time. 

According to the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), 29.66 million tonnes of cargo was recorded between January and October, up from 28.69 million tonnes handled in the same period in 2022, representing a 3.4 per cent increment.  

Container traffic increased by 10.2 per cent, registering 1,322,999 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) between January and October compared to 1,200,832 last year. 

"A positive performance was also witnessed in the transit market segment, which registered 9.30 million tons against 8.67 million tons handled in the same period in 2022, posting a positive variance of 634,192 tons or 7.3 per cent," said KPA. 

Container vessel turnaround time, a key indicator of port competitiveness, improved from an average of three days in 2022 to two days. 

"It means that the time taken by container vessels at Mombasa Port has been reduced by a third within a span of 10 months," KPA added.  

The authority further revealed that the average container dwell time for the period reduced to 3.5 days from 3.9 days, an improvement of 10 per cent. 

The low dwell time is despite having a higher free storage period of four and 15 days for local and transit containers respectively. 

KPA Managing Director William Ruto attributed the performance to several changes. "These initiatives include the expansion of container handling berths, increased automation of services, acquisition of modern ship, cargo handling equipment, and improved partnerships with key government agencies and stakeholders," he said.  

Currently, the port has 16 ship-to-shore gantries cranes, 25 reach stackers and 27 empty container handlers among other equipment.  

Last year, the port received a new set of three cranes, which were installed at the newly completed berth number 22. 

In August, KPA installed four more cranes, which are twin lift enabled, replacing the aged single lift ones at berth 16.  

The full operationalisation of the Port of Lamu is also underway with additional equipment procured to ensure efficiency, and the completion of the ongoing road network will help tap into the lucrative markets of Ethiopia and South Sudan, according to KPA

In addition, the construction of the New Kipevu Oil Terminal at the Port of Mombasa will improve efficiency, while the procurement for the construction services of Dongo Kundu Berth 1 is almost complete.  

This is important for the development of the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone.  "This zone will not only boost the economy of the country but through enhanced trade, drive major business growth for Mombasa Port," KPA said. 

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