Mombasa, Kenya – Efficiency at the port of Mombasa improved in 2014, showing that ongoing reforms at the facility are bearing fruit.

According to figures released by Kenya Ports Authority KPA Managing Director Gichiri Ndua, recently, key performance indicators improved compared to 2013. Dwell time (the time it takes to clear cargo at the port), went down from 5.8 last year to just 3.7 days, a 36% improvement.

In tandem, truck transit time, which refers to the time a truck takes to travel from the port once it has come out of the gates to the border at Busia or Malaba, on the Uganda –Kenya border, went down 42% from seven to four days, while vessel turnaround time was constant at 3.4 days.

Overall cargo volumes handled by the port were also generally rose in 2014, having recovered from a slight drop largely due to anxiety occasioned by electioneering in the run-up to the March 2013 elections.

“The first six months of 2014 witnessed an overall significant positive performance compared to a similar period in 2013 ,” Mr Ndua said. “We went through one intensive but very exciting half year at the Port that we have been able to manage through your continuous support.

He was speaking during the annual KPA Stakeholders’ Business Luncheon in Nairobi recently.

Total cargo throughput grew 12.8 %, with the port handling 11.9 million tons, up from 10.5 million tons handled over the same period in 2013. Import tonnage went up 11.7 % posting 10.06 million tons, compared to 8.99 million tons registered in 2013. At the same time, exports increased by 13.9% to hit 1.65 million tons against 1.45 million tons handled in 2013.

Container traffic realized growth of 11.5%, reaching 463,807 TEUs compared to 415,948 TEUs registered during the same period in 2013, way above the global average growth rate of eight % per annum. (TEU = Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit, which constitutes a standard container)

The half-year performance also shows that Mombasa is increasingly growing its trans-shipment business. Trans-shipment traffic recorded a robust performance, posting 160,000 tons of cargo in the first half of 2014 against 72,000 tons recorded in the corresponding period in 2013, reflecting an increase of 88,000 tons or 12.2 %.

Uganda, which has entrenched itself as Kenya’s biggest trading partner increased its usage of the port substantially during 2014. In the first six months of this year, Ugandan cargo handled at the port grew 14.4% to 2.72 million tons, up from 2.38 million tons registered for a comparable period in 2013. Rwanda recorded a 12.5% growth to realize 110,540 tons, up from 98,240 tons in 2013.

KPA Chairman Danson Mungatana stressed the importance of a properly established land and marine transport system as a prerequisite for economic growth.

“It is clear that no success in the management of a full transport system can be achieved by any one party in isolation. Success calls for input from every player in the logistic chain and indeed from everyone in the entire social fabric,” noted Mungatana.

Speaking at the same event, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure Mr Michael Kamau, who was the chief guest, announced that the two new berths proposed as part of efforts to increase the capacity of Mombasa Port, will be run by private investors.

He said that Berths 20 and 21, which are expected to add an additional 550,000 TEUs to the port’s capacity will be operated by a consortium of foreign and Kenyan investors.

“We want Kenya to become a maritime country. The operator we are looking for must meet certain conditions, which include proven experience in managing a port with a capacity of at least 400,000 TEUs. They must also be ready to cede at least 49 % of the shareholding to Kenyans eventually,” he said.

Kamau explained that the involvement of private operators will not affect current operations in any way, allaying fears of any possible labor cuts.

He cited a number of ongoing related infrastructural projects to improve the port’s efficiency levels and capacity, expressing satisfaction with their progress. These include the second container terminal, Dongo Kundu Bypass, the construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR); the proposed route to Burundi through Taveta-Singida/Kobero-Bujumbura; the Lamu Port and an inland container depot (ICD) at Taveta.

The CS lauded KPA for an improved performance this year, noting that the Government was determined to make Mombasa the port of choice in the region.

The good performance comes following a number of far-reaching reforms at the port. Last year, President Kenyatta, among other measures, ordered the Commissioner of Customs to start operating from Mombasa while KPA was required to digitize goods clearance.

Recently, KPA and other agencies operating out of the port launched a Service Charter, which documents their commitment to achieving certain set service levels. The Service Charter aims to reduce goods clearance time by 15 % and the trip to the border by 30 %. It also involved the introduction of an electronic dashboard to measure performance.
President Kenyatta has also put KPA in charge of all agencies working at the port to ensure greater efficiency and better co-ordination of operations at the key facility.

The port is implementing a number of infrastructure projects to further improve capacity and efficiency. These include dredging of the channel to accommodate bigger vessels, construction of Berth 19 and a second container terminal.

Other projects include port automation, an integrated security system, acquisition of modern cargo handling equipment, expansion of gates and the re-location of the Kipevu Oil Terminal.

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