The port of Mombasa has garnered interest from several leading international shipping lines following its multi-billion infrastructure upgrade.
The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) anticipates an increase in cargo with the expansion of its container terminals.
Last Friday, the port welcomed a full container vessel from a prominent Italian shipping liner, Ignazio Messina Line’s MV Jolly Argento. Ignazio Messina operates more than a dozen vessels, both owned and chartered, with a total fleet exceeding 41,000 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) containers.
Captain Abdulaziz Mzee, a senior mariner at KPA, received the vessel at berth number 22. He highlighted this as an opportunity for KPA, emphasising that Ignazio Messina’s investment in complete full container vessels serves as a pilot project.
Captain Abdulaziz Mzee presented Captain Andrea Massino Caseli, the skipper of the vessel, with a first port call certificate.
He said the shipping line, accustomed to bringing Ro-Ro vessels to the port of Mombasa, traditionally berthed at berth number one.
“This marks the maiden voyage of a container carrier that can now berth at the container terminal from berth number 16 to 22,” he said.
Mzee further emphasised that the vessel presents an opportunity for the KPA to accommodate more tare weight, given that the container terminal has a draft range of 12.5 to 14 meters.
He encouraged other shipping lines to follow Messina’s example, urging them to bring more cargo to both the port of Mombasa and the new port of Lamu.
KPA has expanded the new container terminal to include berth numbers 21 and 22, with plans to proceed with berth number 23. This expansion has significantly increased the yard space at the Mombasa port for storing and handling containers.
“We encourage other shipping lines to bring their cargo here to the port since we have ample capacity. There is abundant storage space available for additional containers,” he said.
Captain Giuseppe Fedele, the regional chief executive officer of Messina Line, stated that the vessel is the sole shipping line directly connecting the North-West continent and the Mediterranean Sea to Mombasa.
The vessel’s itinerary encompasses Genoa Port in Italy (the busiest port in Italy), Naples, Turkey, Alexandria in Egypt, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Mombasa, Dar Es Salaam, Maputo, and Durban.
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He said additional vessels from the fleet will be making calls at the Port of Mombasa, with another recent acquisition expected to dock in December.
“We have invested in a full container vessel, operating a regular line service with four calls each month. Historically, Messina has provided services in Mombasa for the past 35 years and aims to sustain its operations here,” said Fedele.
He was with operations manager Frederick Otieno and assistant operations manager Mohamed Kazungu.
The CEO said they hold Kenya in high esteem, hence their resolve to continue using the Port of Mombasa.