MARITIME TRADE

Mombasa port cargo volumes rise as global trade picks up

KPA handled a total of 23.9 million tonnes of cargo in eight months to August.

In Summary

•Last year, the port recorded a total cargo throughput of 34.12 million tonnes down from 34.44 million tonnes in 2019.

•Meanwhile, construction of Phase II of the Second Container Terminal is 88 per cent complete.

Containers at the Port of Mombasa's Second Container Terminal/
Containers at the Port of Mombasa's Second Container Terminal/
Image: CHARLES MGHENYI

Cargo volumes at the Mombasa port hare rising after a slow down last year, occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic that disrupted international trade.

Between January and August, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) handled a total of 23.9 million tonnes of cargo, compared to 22.1 million tonnes handled in a similar period last year.

This is an increase of 1.79 million tonnes marking an 8.1 per cent growth, with volumes expected to grow as global trade picks up.

Last year, the port recorded a total cargo throughput of 34.12 million tonnes down from 34.44 million tonnes in 2019, a marginal decline of 0.9 per cent.

Container traffic declined by four per cent registering 1.360 million TEUs in 2020 compared to 1.42 million TEUs achieved in 2019, while transshipment traffic dropped by 16.9 per cent, KPA official data indicates.

According to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), on the impact of Covid-19 on maritime transport, ship calls around the globe dropped by 8.7 per cent in the the first 24 weeks of 2020, down from 1.1 million calls recorded during the first 24 weeks of 2019.

“For the first time in a decade, the Port of Mombasa recorded a decrease in the total volumes of cargo handled in 2020 since the 2010 economic recession,” acting managing director John Mwangemi noted.

Best performing ports in the world, such as China’s Port of Shanghai also recorded a slump in performance during the year.

“Although the pandemic is still here with us, we have made great strides in coming up with solutions to minimise its impact and hopefully vanquish it altogether,” Mwangemi said in a statement.

KPA has adjusted its conventional business processes and embraced online cargo clearance processes and payments for port charges, thus reducing physical interpersonal contact and paper handling.

Meanwhile, construction of Phase II of the Second Container Terminal is 88 per cent complete, management said.

The Sh32billion project being undertaken by Japan's Toyo Construction Company commenced in September 2018, and is expected to be delivered by the end of 2021.

It is an extension to the first phase (Phase one of the Second Container Terminal), built on a Sh26 billion loan from Japan, and commissioned in April 2016.

It involved reclaiming of a sea area of about 50 acres, a project that created 550,000 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit (TEUs) capacity with two new berth.

The second phase will bring an additional capacity of 450,000 TEUs, a much needed space at the port which is envisioned to handle approximately 1.732 million TEUs up from the current 1.42 million TEUs by 2023.

It is estimated the port will handle 47 million tonnes in the next ten years, from the current 30 million tonnes and eventually 111 million tonnes by 2047.

KPA is also keen on growing business at the newly commissioned Lamu Port which has so far attracted eight vessels, with transshipment cargo being the key load.

Transshipment is the unloading of goods from one ship and its loading into another to complete a journey to a further destination.

The newly revamped Kisumu Port has also brought a significant increase in trade with more cargo ships calling the port to deliver cargo to Port Bell in Uganda and Mwanza in Tanzania.

“We are also implementing other various projects including the development of a truck marshalling yard at the Nairobi ICD and Mombasa in partnership with private investors,” Mwangemi said.