Mom­basa port tran­sit cargo traf­fic in mar­ginal growth

Fuel im­ports have dropped in the past year, with Kenya’s land locked neigh­bours opt­ing for the Dar es Salaam port

The East African - - BUSINESS - A JOINT RE­PORT The Eastafrican By Al­lan Olingo and Nji­raini Muchira

The vol­ume of tran­sit cargo at the Mom­basa port has grown marginally de­spite a multi-mil­lion dol­lar ex­pan­sion and mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme that has boosted ef­fi­ciency and turn­around time from five to twoand-a-half days.

The Kenya Ports Author­ity (KPA) an­nual per­for­mance re­port shows that tran­sit goods traf­fic in­creased by 1.1 per cent to 7.75 mil­lion tonnes.

Uganda re­mained the largest of the hinterland mar­ket, ac­count­ing for 81.9 per cent of the traf­fic — or 6.34 mil­lion tonnes. South Su­dan was sec­ond, fol­lowed by Tan­za­nia — fol­low­ing the im­prove­ment of the Mom­basa-taveta-ho­lili road, which has seen an in­creased num­ber of ship­pers in the north of the coun­try pre­fer rout­ing their con­sign­ments through the Mom­basa port. The oth­ers were the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo, Rwanda, So­ma­lia, Bu­rundi and Ethiopia in that or­der.

Last year, Kenya com­mis­sioned a $300 mil­lion sec­ond con­tainer ter­mi­nal that is al­most a kilo­me­tre long, with three dock­ing berths pro­vid­ing an ad­di­tional an­nual cargo-han­dling ca­pac­ity of 550,000 Teus (20-foot-equiv­a­lent units).

The de­crease in tran­sit cargo traf­fic is partly at­trib­uted to the drop in re­gional coun­tries’ use of Kenya’s petroleum prod­ucts due to adul­ter­ation allegations. This saw Uganda, Rwanda, the DRC and Bu­rundi opt for the Dar es Salaam port.

Th­ese land­locked coun­tries de­pend on ei­ther Mom­basa or Dar es Salaam port to im­port their petroleum prod­ucts, and data from Kenya’s Min­istry of En­ergy shows that tran­sit fuel im­ports have dropped in the past year.

While re­leas­ing the per­for­mance fig­ures, KPA man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Cather­ine Mturi-wairi said that the fa­cil­ity han­dled 17.52 mil­lion tonnes of cargo in the seven months to July, com­pared with 15.6 mil­lion over the same pe­riod last year, which was an im­prove­ment of 12.3 per cent.

“We have con­tin­ued to im­ple­ment elab­o­rate port mod­erni­sa­tion pro­grammes to po­si­tion our­selves bet­ter in the re­gion. We have also ex­panded our yards and berths, and ac­quired mod­ern cargo han­dling equip­ment which have im­proved our ef­fi­ciency,” said Ms Mturi.

Over the first seven months of this year, im­ports rose by 12.1 per cent to ac­count for 14.8 mil­lion tonnes against 13.2 mil­lion han­dled in the same pe­riod in 2016. Maize im­ports topped the bulk com­modi­ties list at 46,571 tonnes, fol­lowed by wheat which reg­is­tered 41,392 tonnes. Other items han­dled in bulk were 28,448 tonnes of sugar, 20,740 tonnes of clinker, 17,471 tonnes of fer­tiliser and 10,513 tonnes of steel. Oth­ers were 560 tonnes of bagged ce­ment and 590 tonnes of mo­bile har­bour cranes.

The port also han­dled 1,464 units of mo­tor ve­hi­cles and 96 trucks.

“This in­crease in im­ports was driven by dry bulk com­modi­ties like wheat, clinker, palm and veg­etable oil. The petroleum prod­ucts also formed part of the goods that saw an in­crease in their vol­umes,” Ms Mturi-wairi said.

In terms of ex­ports, the port recorded a 1.7 per cent rise in traf­fic to 2.18 tonnes, from 2.14 tonnes in 2015. Cof­fee, tea, veg­eta­bles, fruits and juices formed the bulk of th­ese items. The ex­ports only ac­count for 13 per cent of the port’s to­tal an­nual out­put.

The port’s con­tainer traf­fic, which reg­is­tered an in­crease of 10.7 per cent was above the global an­nual av­er­age of 4 per cent. It rose to 689,593 Teus from 622,787 Teus in 2015.

The port, which is a ma­jor trade gate­way to East Africa, last year recorded the high­est per­cent­age of trans­ship­ment traf­fic of 45.4 per cent that saw it rise to 439,804 tonnes up from 302,547 tonnes.

“We have for the past few months put in a lot of ef­fort and re­sources to­wards the pro­mo­tion of this seg­ment. We are now en­gag­ing key ship­ping lines and their prin­ci­pals in a bid to in­crease more of their cargo,” Ms Mturi said.

The port will also next year set for the con­struc­tion of a sec­ond ter­mi­nal that will pro­vide an ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity of 450,000 TEUS. This comes after the op­er­a­tional­iza­tion of the first phase of this project last year.

The port author­ity also said that it was work­ing on con­struc­tion of a big­ger oil ter­mi­nal that it says will re­place the cur­rent Kipevu oil ter­mi­nal.

“This new ter­mi­nal will in­cor­po­rate a liq­uid petroleum gas pipe­line and have the ca­pac­ity to han­dle four ves­sels at any one time. This fa­cil­ity will also have pipes run­ning on the sea bed to link with the Kenya Pipe­lines stor­age tanks,” the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor said.

The con­struc­tion of the fa­cil­ity is ex­pected to take 30 months, and will see a four berth is­land ter­mi­nal lo­cated in­land and ca­pa­ble of load­ing and dis­charg­ing crude oil, heavy fuel oil, avi­a­tion fuel, petrol and diesel. The author­ity also plans to con­vert berths one and two into ded­i­cated cruise ter­mi­nal, away from the cargo traf­fic that they hand. It says this $1 mil­lion ven­ture will im­prove on the tourism mar­ket which has seen a rise in cruise ships dock­ing in the coastal city.

“We have con­tin­ued to im­ple­ment elab­o­rate port mod­erni­sa­tion pro­grammes to po­si­tion our­selves bet­ter in the re­gion.” Cather­ine Mturi-wairi, KPA man­ag­ing di­rec­tor

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