New berth to ease congestion at Mombasa port


Cargo awaits collection at the Mombasa port. The Sh5.8 billion berth will raise the port’s container handling capacity by 200,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) containers a year. FILE

The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) will on Wednesday commission a new berth at the port of Mombasa as part of its efforts to ease congestion at the facility.

The Sh5.8 billion berth, to be launched by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda), will raise the port’s container handling capacity by 33 per cent – about 200,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) containers a year.

Gichiri Ndua, KPA managing director, said the new 240-metre long berth will equip the port to handle 800,000 TEUs, up from the current 600,000 TEUs per year.

“However the container terminal is still overstretched and is handling more than 300,000 TEUs above the required capacity. The new berth is expected to boost container handling operations at the port,” Ndua said.

A berth is a designated location where ships dock or anchor as they are loaded or offloaded.

Ndua said container traffic through the Mombasa port had increased a thousand-fold from 9,093 TEUs in 1978 to 903,463 TEUs last year. The port was originally designed to handle 250,000 TEUs.

Berth 19, which has been under construction since July 2011, will allow three Panamax vessels of up to 250 metres in length to unload containers at any given moment. It is the biggest upgrade to the Mombasa port since 1980.

Kenya is also pushing for the completion of a second container terminal at Kilindini harbour at a cost of Sh28 billion. The new terminal, whose construction began in June last year, will double the port’s handling capacity on completion in 2016.