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Cargo business yet to recover from covid-survey

It is attributed to disruptions to the supply chain caused by global lock downs that were imposed.

In Summary
  • The study also notes that transport and logistics provision services in East African region declined in performance.
  • World Bank’s 2020 report noted globally in 2020, there was an increasing decline in the number of port calls.
Containers at the Port of Mombasa's Second Container Terminal
WHOSE TURF? Containers at the Port of Mombasa's Second Container Terminal
Image: CHARLES MGHENYI

The port of Mombasa was hit hard by the pandemic in 2020 with its key performance indicators declining consecutively over the years.

This is according to the latest study by East African Business Council(EABC) on the performance of its transport corridors.

The cargo Throughput, the volume of cargo that is handled at the terminal in a period of one year, at the port was 34.13 million tonnes, 1.8 million tonnes less the target of 35.90 million tonnes.

This was attributed to disruptions to the supply chain caused by global lockdowns that were imposed.

Ship Turnaround Time, the total time that a vessel spends at a port from its arrival to departure in terms of days, is said to have remained constant at 3.92 days between 2019 and 2020.

Although, the average turnaround time performance falls short of the 81 hours’ target with reasons of transporters encountering delays to meet the health protocols.

Dwell Time, the time a ship spends at port securing the vessel, which had marked an improvement from 100 hours in 2018 to 88 hours in 2019 worsened in 2020 when it rose to 106 hours.

This was a result of the longer time taken to complete cargo clearance formalities and temporary storage time.

Transit Time from the port according to the survey, the Mombasa-Kigali route was the slowest averaging 9.75 days followed by Mombasa-Cyanika (8.38 days) then Mombasa-Mpondwe (8.33 days).

The Mombasa-Elegu route at 6.29 days and Mombasa-Kampala at 6.42 days were the fastest according to the data.

The transport freight rates from Mombasa to its EAC Partners increased in 2020 citing additional costs on driver testing for COVID-19, quarantine, multiple border charges and road conditions.

Generally, the study also noted that transport and logistics provision services in the East African region declined in performance.

This, despite the providers’ enlisting as essential during the imposition of the Covid-19 containment measures.

According to Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL), container throughput index, the number of people and goods passing through shipping ports daily, declined from 113.3 in January 2020 to 107.7 in May 2020, a 9.5 per cent decrease.

The International Air Travel Association (IATA) stated that Industry-wide, air Cargo Tonne-Kilometres (CTKs) dropped by 15.3 per cent three months consecutively to April 2020.

World Bank’s 2020 report that noted globally in 2020, there was an increasing decline in the number of port calls, particularly from container ships was also noted.

The decline was attributed to the blank sailings and scheduled container services that either did not run at all or did not call at particular ports on a scheduled route due to insufficient traffic.

The survey however acknowledges that the efficiency and cost of freight transport services play a critical role in the competitiveness of international traders and by extension the economic performance of a country.

"Therefore, efforts to improve freight logistics should be at the core. The sector is one of the core pillars of economic development,'' World Bank said.