•During the period January–June 2020, Kenya Ports Authority handled a total of 16.4million metric tonnes of cargo.
•The six months volumes are lower compared to 17.2 million tonnes handled in the corresponding period in 2019.
Container traffic at the Mombasa port dropped four per cent in the year to June, as Covid-19 disrupted the global supply chain and international trade.
A total of 16.4million metric tonnes (16,408,066 tonnes) of cargo was recorded, Kenya Ports Authority data shows.
This is short of the authority's target of 17.5 million tonnes for the January-June period.
The six months volumes are lower compared to 17.2 million tonnes handled in the corresponding period in 2019, a 4.7 per cent decline.
During the period, cumulative container traffic declined by 32,338 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) with a total 653, 932 TEUs being handled, compared to 686, 270 containers handled the same period last year.
“This decline was particularly occasioned by a decrease in the handling of empty exports and full transshipment traffic, which recorded a negative variance of 9.2 per cent and a 20.6 per cent respectively,” KPA notes.
Liquid bulk cargo handled at the port had the most significant decline with 385,860 tonnes or 4.6 per cent decline compared to the previous financial year.
The drop in volumes came even as dry bulk cargo increased to a total of 4.3 million tonnes compared to 4.1 million tonnes last year.
The port handled a total of 288,356 containers of imports between January and June this year, while exports totaled 281, 788 TEUs.
Transshipment cargo, destined for other destinations with Mombasa as an intermediate port, totaled 80,272 TEUs.
KPA had targeted to handle a total of 678, 942 TEUs in the six months, missing its target by about 25, 010 containers.
During the same period, total throughput underperformed its set target of 17,522,000 tonnes by 1,113,934 tonnes or 6.4 per cent.
“A positive first half performance in the period July to December 2019 was overshadowed by steep decline in the preceding months of January to June 2020 due to the effects of the Covid-19,” KPA management says in its report.
A survey by the East African Business Council (EABC) notes over half (51 per cent ) of EAC’s exports, Kenya included, are destined to countries highly impacted by Covid-19, while 53 per cent of its imports originate from such highly impacted countries.
“Disruption of global supply chain has impacted negatively on demand of EAC exports,” EABC chief executive Peter Mathuki said.
Kenya , like other regional states, is a net importer with Mombasa a key port facility serving the country and landlocked neighbours.
The business community is however positive of a rebound in international trade as countries slowly move to ease Covid-19 restrictions, with markets in China, Kenya’s leading import source opening up.
“The recovery strategy for businesses in the EAC, also recommends a strengthened partnership between the public and private sectors for business rebound as well as a coordinated regional approach on handling Covid-19,” Mathuki said.