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Shipping & Logistics

Efficiency, SGR seen driving growth at Mombasa port

 Mombasa port
A section of the Mombasa port. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Co-ordination Authority (NCTTCA) has predicted faster business growth at the Port of Mombasa occasioned by efficiency and the standard gauge railway (SGR) cargo haulage.

NCTTCA member states are Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan. Its ‘‘13th Northern Corridor Transport Observation Report’’ for the period September 2017 to September 2018 predicts an increase in business at East Africa’s busiest port.

The study on activities at the port sees prospects of further business boom in future, with Uganda topping East Africa countries with the largest import transit.

The report indicates that cargo throughput at the port between January and September 2018 increased to 23.2 million dead weight tonnes (dwt), up from 22.7 million dwt over the same period in 2017. The NCTTCA study was unveiled at Nyali Sun Africa Beach Hotel in Mombasa recently.

The report says Northern Corridor member states largely import from China, India, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, whereas the US and Pakistan provide market for their exports.

For the period April-September 2018, total intra-regional trade was valued at $2 billion (Sh204 billion). Uganda and Kenya were the leading for both net imports and exports.

Addressing participants at the hotel, NCTTCA executive secretary Omae Nyarandi said the increase was 2.1 per cent when compared to same period in 2017.

“Growth in volumes shows expansion of trade in all transit countries except Rwanda which witnessed a decreased of eight per cent. Burundi’s volume grew five-fold when compared to 2017,” Mr Nyarandi said.

He said that Uganda remains the top destination for transit imports accounting for over 80 per cent of traffic through Mombasa port. “Another notable trend is the rise in the number of twenty foot-equivalent units (TEUs) handled as transshipment cargo that rose by 40.1 per cent. Kenya remained the largest destination for imports at 293.740 TEUs and origin for exports at 74,149 TEUs. This trend indicates the increasing importance of the Port of Mombasa in the region,” he added.

The report further notes a variability in cargo dwell time over the period under review with the month of June 2018 recording the best cargo dwell time of 53 hours, whereas August 2018 recorded the poorest dwell time of 114 hours.

“This performance is still way below the port charter target of 72 hours dwell time and 48 hours international benchmarking standards,” said Mr Nyarandi.

“Data shows improved ship turnaround time, vessel waiting time before berth and vessel productivity (gross moves per hour).

“This improved performance is attributed to an increase in the number of container handling terminals and investment in both shore and off-shore equipment, whereas improved productivity has been occasioned by the improved investment and utilisation of ship yard equipment,” Mr Nyarandi said.

He said that cargo haulage by the SGR has been improving with tonnage growing to 1,662,824 million tonnes between April and September 2018.

“Road conditions have greatly improved. The total length of bad roads for the entire corridor road network was at 64 per cent in 2014 and reduced to 40 per cent as at September 2018,” he said.
Some factors identified as causes of high transport costs include road tolls, multiple border charges and poor road conditions.

“The elimination or reduction of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) will go a long way in improving trade facilitation among the member states. Member countries have put an effort in initiatives geared towards boosting intra-regional trade,” he said.

The private sector, led by Mombasa Port Corridor Charter steering committee chairman Gilbert Langat, welcomed the report. Mr Langat said issues affecting trade at the port were being addressed by both the private sector and government agencies.

He said that although the SGR has done a lot in ferrying cargo form the port, it has not addressed logistical challenges facing the sector. “The SGR, like any other venture, has faced many teething problems and has not lived up to addressing all the logistical issues although it has increased cargo haulage capacity,” said Mr Langat.

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