Mombasa port handles one million TEU by September

NAIROBI's Port of Mombasa handled a record one million TEU by September 16, putting it on track to top this year's target of 1

03 January 2020 - 19:00

NAIROBI's Port of Mombasa handled a record one million TEU by September 16, putting it on track to top this year's target of 1.3 million TEU, up from 1.2 TEU in 2018.

But this achievement comes despite corruption allegations rocking the Kenya Ports Authority, reports the Nairobi Star..

The growth was attributed to expansion of the port, the deepening of the Kilindini channel which has allowed bigger vessels to berth, and improved cargo handling capacity to speed up ship turn-around times and cargo evacuation.

'Going by our daily handling of between 3,500 TEU and 4,000 TEU, simple arithmetic tells us that we might even surpass 1.4 million TEU,' KPA managing director Daniel Manduku told journalists in Mombasa during a tour of the facility.

Cargo handled between January and September amounted to 25.45 million tonnes compared to 23.36 million tonnes recorded over the same period last year, an increase of 2.09 million tonnes.

This came as phase one of the Second Container Terminal came into full operation, increasing the port's annual capacity by 550,000 TEU. The second phase is currently 30 per cent complete and is expected to bring onboard an extra capacity of 450,000 TEU, raising its total capacity to one million TEU.

The standard gauge railway (SGR) and rehabilitation of the Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD) has also played a vital role is supporting port operations where cargo dwell-times have been lowered from 23 days a year ago.

'I am happy to note that 80 per cent of all cargo is leaving the Inland Container Depot within four days and our average dwell time has gone down to below six days. This is because of the efforts by both government agencies and private sector in ensuring that we make business smooth and efficient,' Mr Manduku said.

Cargo volumes hauled by the SGR have continued to grow and totalled 2,784,171 as of September, compared to 2018's full-year tonnage of 2,930,698, data from the Nairobi ICD shows.

Another milestone witnessed at the port of Mombasa this year was the berthing of the biggest bulk carrier vessel in its history with the arrival of the 63,939-dwt Lowlands Mimosa.

Port throughput has since risen from 30.7 million in 2017/2018 to 32.7 million in 2018/2019, representing growth of six per cent.

Profitability is up from KES10.6 billion (US$104.56 million) in 2017/18 to KES17.5 billion in 2018/19.

'We have removed many obstacles that slowed down business and we are confident that the reforms we have undertaken will bear more fruit soon,' said Mr Manduku.

At Lamu, the first berth at the planned 32-berths port was completed on August 6, by the Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Development Authority, which says the second and third berths are 57 per cent complete.

'The government is on schedule for the delivery of the remaining two berths by December 2020,' said Lapsset CEO Silvester Kasuku.

The government has also been aggressive to have Kisumu port become operational with a KES700 million facelift, a facility expected to revive lake transport and connectivity in the East Africa region.

'Kisumu port is expected to open up the western Kenya market and further boost regional trade,' Mr Manduku said.

On August 7, KPA launched a 29-year master plan (2018-2047) with the KES360 billion development blueprint. According to Transport CS James Macharia, the master plan is guided by the country's 'Vision 2030 Development Blueprint and President Uhuru Kenyatta's Big Four Development Agenda.

'The implementation of these projects as outlined in the master plan will increase container capacity from 1.65 million TEU currently to 3.5 million TEU by 2030 and ultimately 5.9 million TEU by 2047,' the CS said.

However, port operations have been dented by corruption allegations, prompting the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to probe an alleged KES2.7 billion tender scam at KPA.

This came even as the authority in September scrapped tenders worth KES19.5 billion, accusing a cartel of staff and influential businessmen of attempting to sway seven multi-billion Kenyan shilling tenders.

The tenders included a KES7 billion headquarters construction, KES3 billion terminal operating system, KES3 billion purchase of land at the Nairobi ICD and a KES2 billion dredging tender.

Other cancelled deals were a KES2 billion port equipment tender, supply of a tug boat at KES1.7 billion and a KES800 million pilot boat.

'The seven were cancelled after entrepreneurs and some staff tried to collude to influence the outcome,' a top manager within the authority told the Star.

On November 22, KPA's board suspended all new procurement 'with immediate effect', even as chairman Joseph Kibwana affirmed the authority's compliance with investigations on the alleged corruption.

'The authority is facilitating its staff to honour summons and the officers have dutifully responded to those requests,' Mr Kibwana said.

Some officers from the DCI were reported to have been pushing for the interests of influential businessmen with leaked documents, purportedly from the DCI, said to have recommended the prosecution of several top officials at KPA over procurement and payments of contracts.


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