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Mombasa celebreates a millionth container

  • Written by Standard Digital
  • Published under Industry news

The Port of Mombasa handled the one millionth container even as stakeholders protested government bureaucracies that have inhibited growth of transshipment trade at the facility.

In 2008, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) suspended transshipment business due to congestion occasioned by post-election violence and problems in implementation of the Kilindini Waterfront Automated Terminal Operations System (Kwatos) at the port.

Last year, KPA resumed the trade after commissioning berth 19 and implementation of presidential directives that enhanced efficiency and created sufficient space at the port.

Transshipment is the trade of off-loading a container from one ship at a port and loading it onto another ship to be further carried to the final port of discharge.

Mombasa handles goods destined to other ports like ports of Madagascar, Somalia, Zanzibar, Maputo in Mozambique and Comoros.

Due to perennial congestion at the Dar es Salaam port, Tanzania also sometimes rely on Mombasa, where cargo is off-loaded and later shipped in small vessels when the situation improves.

Statistics provided by KPA, however, indicate shipping lines are still not keen to use Mombasa as a transshipment hub, saying some conditions placed by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) on the trade are unattainable.

Of 16 million tonnes of cargo traffic handled at the port of Mombasa in 2007, transshipment constituted about 480,000 tonnes or 3 per cent. In 2008 KPA stopped the handling of transshipment trade before resuming again in 2012 but even last year the trade constituted of less than 300,000 tones.

“KRA insists that shipping lines must declare transshipment cargo and file the declaration forms through the Simba system.

It has also maintained the bond for transshipment. These are conditions that are unique to Mombasa adds unnecessary cost and delays,” said Kenya Ships Agents Association, Chief Executive Officer Juma Tellah.

The transshipment bond required all cargo landing at the port to be secured by shipping lines through bonds determined by the volume and value of the goods. KRA says that the bond will deter the diversion of transit cargo into the market.

KPA recoups through the stevedoring levies—the offloading and loading charges—and port stakeholders says that Mombasa should establish itself as a transshipment hub given that the first phase of the second container terminal is due for completion in March 2016.

“We call on the government to dedicate the second container terminal to transshipment trade. With such a space Mombasa can actually be the transshipment hub in the East Coast,” said Dock Workers Union (DWU) Secretary General Simon Sang’.

He said that given that the second container terminal will be managed by a concessioner it should handle transshipment and leave transit and local cargo for the old terminal.

Last week, KPA advertised in local dailies for a concessionaire to operate the second container terminal at the Port. According to the advert, the private firm will operate the first phase of the terminal which include berth number 20 and 21.

KPA as the Executing Agency of the project intends to retain a private operator to operate phase 1 of the second container terminal under concession agreement between the operator and KPA through competitive bidding,” said KPA in an advert signed by KPA Head of Procurement and Supplies Yobesh Oyaro.

Transport and infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Joseph Kamau promised to hold talks with his colleague in the National Treasury to remove some tariff barriers currently hindering transshipment business at the port.

“We will hold talks with the National Treasury to solve the challenges that are affecting transshipment trade at this port. Through that segment the throughput will go up to even 1.5 million Teus,” said Kamau.

Container traffic at the port has witnessed growth since 1975 when Mombasa first handled 1,298 Teus and in 1980 when it constructed a modern container terminal leading to an increase in traffic to 30,385 Teus.

On Wednesday last week, the port celebrated one million Twenty-Equivalent Units (Teus) reflecting a growth of 11.5 per cent in 2014 compared to 2013. The million containers include both the inbound and outbound containers.

This is the second achievement after the facility was in 2013 handled 894,000 Teus that led to KPA to be ranked among the top 120 ports in the world out of 5000 ports worldwide.

KPA Managing Director Gichiri Ndua said that sustained container traffic growth at the port has been fuelled by political stability in the region after successful elections in the country and increased efficiency in the transport sector that has led to reduced ship turnaround times and cargo dwell time at the port.

“Our statistical expectations was that we could conquer the million Teus in 2013. However this proposition faltered at the expense of the low business activities witnessed during the electioneering period of 2013 which saw a negative one per cent decline,” said Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director Mr. Gichiri Ndua at port during the celebrations yesterday.

CS Kamau said the ongoing capacity expansion programmes by government have greatly contributed to the port capacity to match the ever increasing cargo volumes.

“The completion of the dredging project in 2012 and berth number 19 in 2013 saw the port become a popular destination for relatively bigger vessels. This indeed contributed to the achievement we are celebrating today,” Kamau said.

He said phase one of the second container terminal was 70 percent complete and “could even be completed by December this year (2015).” Earlier projection by KPA and the ministry indicate that the second container terminal will be completed by March 2016.

The CS said Government was preparing to pay land owners to pave way for the construction of the first three berths at the proposed Lamu port saying the contract was ready to begin work.

He also noted that the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway connecting Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda has already started and would be completed by 2017.

These projects are expected to boost efficiency at the port of Mombasa hence create extra space for transshipment trade.

The CS said the Government was committed to the construction of the proposed alternative shorter route from Mombasa port to Burundi through Holili boarder-Singida-Kobero border and finally to Bujumbura.

“This corridor will reduce the distance from Mombasa to Bujumbura through the Northern Corridor by 358KM. So far the Government. So far the Government has commenced upgrading of the road from Voi to Taveta on the Kenyan side,” Kamau said.

Speaking at the port last week, Kamau said KPA has already acquired 50 acres at Taveta, the Kenya-Tanzania border, for construction of an inland container depot so as to position itself in bringing business closer to Bujumbura.

Source: Standard Digital

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