Mombasa port sees increase in number of ships


A cargo ship arrives at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Port of Mombasa has recorded a rise in the number of ships calling at the facility signifying steady growth following the difficulties related to the pandemic.

The port has seen ten ships docking in one day this month.

According to the port marine schedule, January 21 registered the highest number of ships arriving at the port since March last year.

With the rising number of vessels, the port management is optimistic business will bounce back strongly this year.

The positive outlookstarted from improved performance in the fourth quarter of 2020 with container operations ship average working time reducing by more than two days.

The acting head of container operations Patrick Makau said they expect better performance this year now that business normalcy is slowly returning.

"In the report for the week ending, 20th January 2021 indicated a ship average working time of 3.19 days while the import container dwell time recorded 4.69 days which is an improvement thus attracting more ships to the port," said Mr Makau.

There are also early indications of significant growth in the transshipment segment in the current quarter.

Mr Makau said the container terminals have been busy having increased the cargo volumes handled in the first three weeks of the year.

"For instance, transshipment traffic by PIL (K) shipping Line vessels alone registered 8,106Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (teus) in the month of December 2020 up from 7,729 teus in November," he said.

At the port container terminal, a total of 13,057 teus (Full and empty) were expected to be discharged on Friday while another 13,069 teus were to be loaded for export.

On cargo transportation, container deliveries by road transport registered 6,324 teus compared to 5,024 teus by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

Import population breakdown for the week ended 20th January indicated 5,457 teus transit bound compared to 4,066 teus for local destinations. Uganda bound traffic remain highest where it recorded 4,758 teus accounting for 87.2 percent.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) bound cargo came in second with 239 teus followed by South Sudan with 219 teus. Other transit destinations were Rwanda which accounted for 126 teus, Tanzania with103 teus with Somalia and Burundi accounting for 9 teus and 3 teus respectively.

Impressive performance trend recorded in 2019 was curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic which affected businesses across the globe last year. Transshipment segment posted a total of 211,604 teus compared to 121, 577 teus in 2018 representing a growth of 70 percent. The performance later slumped to 175, 827 teus in 2020.

Despite the setbacks, KPA is hopeful that the Port will attract more business this year as some of the key infrastructure development projects are also projected to be complete by the end of the year.

Kipevu Oil Terminal; a new terminal that will increase the oil handling capacity at the port is set to be ready by the end of the year. The Authority has assured stakeholders and customers of smooth delivery of services following a decision reached by partner agencies.

Meanwhile normalcy in container deliveries especially transit containers is expected to resume after a lull occasioned by internet shut down in Uganda, the leading port transit customer.