A vessel carrying over 6,000 twenty foot equivalent units (Teus) docked at the Mombasa port on Monday, signalling an era of growth in trans shipment business at the facility.
Liberian flagged Mv MSC Portugal which has a capacity of 6,550 Teus is 304 metres long, 40 metres wide with a depth of 14.5 metres and is one of the largest vessels to call at the port.
The arrival of the vessel was a culmination of marketing efforts in Europe, Middle East and Asia following expansion of capacity at the facility, said William Ruto, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) general manager operations and harbour master.
“When a large vessel calls at a port there is the advantage of economies of scale because it is economical for shipping lines to operate one big vessel to a region than send several ships with low capacity. Once containers are offloaded in Mombasa smaller vessels will be used to distribute cargo to other ports within the region,” he said.
When shipping lines move huge volumes of cargo using one vessel, there are lower running costs with shippers offering competitive freight rates.
Mr Ruto said they expected ships with a higher capacity to keep calling at the port after expansion of the terminal and deepening of the harbour to accommodate larger vessels.
The KPA targets to increase transshipment business from the current two per cent of total cargo handled to about 10 per cent in 2025. With the port handling 27 million tonnes in 2017, this would translate to 2.7 million tonnes from the current less than 500,000 tonnes of transshipment goods handled annually.
Last year, the authority formed an inter-agency committee that was expected to establish existing bottlenecks in handling of transshipment goods.
Members of the Committee are KPA (Chair and Secretariat), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Ships Agents Association (KSAA) and Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (KIFWA). Among the challenges the committee identified was lack of coordination by agencies engaged in handling of goods at the port.