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Shipping & Logistics

Mombasa port’s hits, misses in the face of Covid-19 crisis

Port of Mombasa
A vessel at the Port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Mombasa port has recorded increased cargo destined to Tanzania, South Sudan and the DRC Congo while Uganda’s consignments declined in the first four months of this year.

This is according to latest Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) performance report of 2020.

The introduction and gazettement of the Kenya-Tanzania link road through Voi-Taveta-Singida-Kobero has borne some fruits because Tanzania cargo increased by 40.7 percent.

The link road and enhanced customs management systems at the Taveta one-stop border post (OSBP), which has reduced transport bottlenecks, appear to have attracted most of the northern Tanzania traders to use the Port of Mombasa.

Mombasa port also surpassed its April target for cargo destined to South Sudan and DRC Congo by 35.8 percent and 20.8 percent respectively despite shipping industry grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Missing the target of cargo destined to Uganda by 1.9 percent has, however, contributed to the KPA slumping on its April target by 4.4 percent.

The port management had projected to handle 11,815 metric tonnes of cargo for the first four months of 2020 but fell short of 498 metric tonnes, which was blamed on the disruption of supply chain due to Covid-19.

According to the report, the port missed its local cargo throughput target where it anticipated to handle 7,723 metric tonnes but recorded 7,277 metric tonnes representing a decline of 6.1 percent occasioned by lockdown in China where most of the Kenyan cargo originates.

During the period, the Port of Mombasa surpassed its transshipment target of 600 metric tonnes for the first four months by 6.8 percent which is attributed to increased number of shipping lines making direct call from Asia.

In the past one month, three vessels from the world’s largest shipping lines have made their maiden call at the port with more than 5,000 containers each as the number of vessels docking at the facility increased from an average of 20 in April to 31 in May and first week of June.

The latest shipping lines to dock are Mv Cosco Yinkou which marked her maiden call to the port under the new joint service dubbed Mashariki by two of the world’s largest shipping lines— Maersk and Cosco (China Ocean Shipping Company) — to increase its network connecting Asia to Eastern Africa.

During Mv Cosco Yinkou’s visit, KPA recorded best performance of discharging and loading the vessel at Second Container terminal since the beginning of the year reducing the ship’s turnaround time by more than a half.

The vessel sailed out of the port in less than 24 hours considering the highest number of moves made to load and offload containers within the four shifts. One of the cranes recorded 362 moves per crane shift, a record last witnessed in December 2019, registering the best performance since the beginning of the year when Covid-19 pandemic had just begun.

KPA acting managing director Salim Rashid commended the group for their diligence and selflessness in the face of the pandemic by ensuring supply chains have remained open. “We are glad we have continued to operate 24/7 albeit with a few challenges. We are more than ever committed to the provision of quality services to our customers,” he said.

According to latest maritime indicators, ship waiting time at the port decreased from 9.33 hours in the week of 27th May to 5.32 hours in the first week of June whereas ship turnaround time reduced from 76.75 hours to 54.98 hours in the period.

In the deal between Maersk and Cosco signed on May 21 this year, the two shipping lines will ensure a dedicated service for both Mombasa and Dar Es Salaam ports.

The vessel-sharing deal is meant to improve the service level and port coverage for customers trading in Shanghai and Mombasa with exporters experiencing a great enhancement with cargo from Mombasa to Asia moving on an average of two weeks.

From Mombasa Maersk offers end-to-end transport solutions to customers based in Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan for both dry and refrigerated cargo.

Apart from MV Cosco, the port also registered increased number of ships connecting directly from Asia to Mombasa with more than 5,500 containers in the past three weeks.

ASEA and JEDDX shipping lines have also introduced direct trips and both have made their maiden trips to Mombasa since mid-May this year.

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