KPA hits record with arrival of fertiliser in biggest bulk carrier vessel

In Summary

• The Port of Mombasa has received the biggest bulk carrier vessel in its history.

MV Lowlands Mimosa on Wednesday, June 26, 2019.
MV Lowlands Mimosa on Wednesday, June 26, 2019.
Image: COURTESY

The Port of Mombasa has received the biggest bulk carrier vessel in its history following the maiden arrival of MV Lowlands Mimosa.

The ship docked at Berth No. 9 at the Port on June 22,2019 with 50,500 metric tons of fertiliser for the Kenya Tea Development Authority.

Some 600,000 tea growers in the country will now benefit from 95,500 metric tonnes of fertiliser imported from Novorossiysk, Russia.

 The first tranche of 50,500 metric tonnes arrived at the Mombasa port on Wednesday.

The next tranche of 45,000 metric tonnes is expected to arrive in the country in the next two weeks.

The consignment, aboard Panama-flagged MV Lowlands Mimosa, is the largest ever to be brought in by the tea growers through the Kenya Tea Development Agency.

The vessel’s captain Captain Gerdessa said the consignment spent 70 days at sea.

It is also the largest consignment to ever be received at the Mombasa port, according to KPA head of conventional cargo operations Paul Bor.

“The farmers have seen value in what is going to happen just to improve on their crop husbandry,” said KTDA representative Simon Gikang’a.

 He said all farmers should have got the fertiliser within the next three weeks in readiness for the rainy season.

Gikang’a, who is also the General Manager at Chai Trading Limited, Kenya’s tea production is likely to improve.

Offloading of the fertiliser is currently ongoing and is likely to take another two or three days to complete, weather permitting.

Bor said the fertiliser is being offloaded at an average rate of 3,500 tonnes per shift, which translates to about 10,500 tonnes a day.

The fertiliser is sensitive and cannot be offloaded when it rains.

One day has three shifts of about eight hours each.

The vessel’s local agent, Seaforth Shipping (Kenya) Ltd, said there have been challenges in bringing in the ship but excellent cooperation from stakeholders, including KPA, has made the milestone achievable.

Operations manager Alex Gichaga said clearance of trucks in and out of the port has made it possible to offload the cargo in record time.

“The challenges arising are being addressed in good time. Ours is to ask everybody to join us in this joyous occasion of handling the biggest ship ever,” said Gichaga.

He said last year, they did 46,000 metric tonnes of cargo as the biggest consignment.

Gikang’a said the MPK compounded fertilizer is a special fertilizer for tea.

He however said it is too early to give the price at which the fertilizer will be sold because there are issues to be calculated.

Bor said the 50,500 metric tonnes of fertilizer is a record for KPA, which calls for futuristic action.

“Very soon we may not be in a position to handle a vessel that is more than 55,000 metric tonnes because of the draft restriction,” said Bor.

Draft restriction refers to the depth of the waters.

“We need now to think of maybe going even up to 13-metre draft which calls for maybe dredging,” said Bor.

He said the port has been handling cargo of up to 40,000 metric tonnes.

“For clinker vessels they normally come within the rate of 50,000 metric tonnes and below,” he noted.

He said the length of vessels calling on the Mombasa port have increased from a maximum of 180 metres to 240 metres.

This means that berths are going to ‘disappear’.

“Because once you put two vessels, it will not be three berths. It will be two berths. So that is where we need to focus on,” he noted.