Kenya port cargo volume seen rising after expansion

Thursday, 21 June 2012 01:55 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Cargo volumes through Kenya’s Mombasa port, a gateway to several countries in east Africa, are expected to rise in coming months after its handling capacity tripled following its expansion to accept bigger vessels, a senior ports official said on Tuesday.

Apart from Kenya, the port handles cargo to and from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.

Its total throughput rose to about 20 million tonnes in 2011 from 18.9 million tonnes in 2010, above the port’s target of 19.4 million tonnes.

On Tuesday, the port whose docking yards could handle vessels carrying up to 1,700 containers before the expansion, received a ship - MV Jolly Peria - originating from Italy, carrying 5,420 containers, the highest number a single ship docking at the port ever carried.

Gichiri Ndua, state-run Kenya Ports Authority’s managing director, said that since the port’s expansion, it had received five similar vessels.

“This is a dramatic achievement ... and places the port of Mombasa amongst the internationally recognised ports with ability to handle vessels of third and fourth generation that have ability to haul 4,500 to 6,000 containers at one go,” Ndua said at the official reception of the ship.

“This is testimony that international shipping lines are now re routing their mega carriers direct to Mombasa to benefit from the economies of scale accrued from the expansion,” he added.

Traffic through the Mombasa port is watched as a key economic indicator for the region.

Imports through the port include oil, clinker which is used to make cement, steel, bitumen for road construction and second-hand cars, while the main exports include tea, coffee, and horticulture goods.

Kenya and its neighbours Ethiopia and South Sudan plan to build a second port, Lamu, which began in March. It is expected to serve oil-rich South Sudan better, as well as Ethiopia, the continent’s biggest coffee producer.

Kenyan Transport Minister Amos Kimunya, who was present at the event said the government had in its 2011/12 budget set aside 2 billion shillings for the construction of three docking yards at the Lamu port.

The expansion of the port of Mombasa which started in August 2011 and ended in March, was carried out by Netherlands-based Van Oord Dredging and Marine contractors at a cost of 5.2 billion kenyan shillings ($61.8 million).

The exercise involved increasing the depth and width of entry and exit points into the port, and the length of docking yards from 240 metres to 840 metres. ($1 = 84.2000 Kenyan shillings)