New measures boost efficiency at Mombasa port

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The pace at which ships drop and pick up cargo has increased thanks to a number of measures affected in recent years at the port of Mombasa, officials now report.

The officials cite the entrenchment of the 24-hour working schedule, embracement of more Container Freight Stations (CFSs), and acquisition of more new equipment as some of the key reasons for faster services.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director, Gichiri Ndua, said container ship turnaround time (time taken by vessels to drop and pick cargo and leave the port) slightly improved to 4.2 days in the second quarter of 2011 from 4.3 days recorded in the corresponding period last year.

“The average container dwell time is now 6.1 days, against 13.1 days in 2008, reflecting an improvement of 114.8 per cent or 7 days,” he said.

He was briefing Mombasa port stakeholders in Kampala, Uganda, where he led a delegation to the port’s transit market in the Great Lakes region. The Ugandan market constitutes about 70 per cent of the port’s transit market.

The transit market also recorded significant growth in traffic, with some 5.4 million tonnes handled last year, up from five million tonnes in 2009, representing a growth of eight per cent. Uganda registered a 6.3 per cent growth, with a total of 4.2 million tones passing through the port, compared to four million tonnes in 2009.

Last week, KPA received three Ship to Shore Gantry Cranes (STSs) from China, and a pilot boat last week to beef up the current stock of equipment.

The STSs, which were procured at $25.8 million (Sh2.4 billion), have a capacity of 50 tonnes compared to the existing STSs that have 40 tonne capacity. “The new STSs will increase our current complement to seven, and enable us to dedicate at least two cranes for each ship at the container terminal at any given time,” adds Ndua.

Other equipment acquired recently included 10 new rubber tyred gantry cranes, four reach stackers, 10 terminal tractors, two mooring boats, two harbour mobile cranes.

Between January and June this year, exports increased 15.4 per cent. However, transit traffic declined by 0.5 per cent to 2.531 million tonnes compared to 2.538 million tonnes handled last year. There was also a slight decline in imports by 1.5 per cent.

Ndua pointed out that piracy continued to be a major challenge in this region.

“We are appreciative of the efforts the government of Kenya and the international community are putting towards minimising the problem,” he says. He said KPA had instituted security measures to safeguard the port from intruders citing the control tower to boost communications and harbour surveillance.

“We are now in the process of installing an Integrated Security System that is fully equipped with modern communication systems, perimeter intrusions detective system, and CCTVs, and specialised training of our security staff to enhance security in the port,” he says.

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