Rains in Mombasa hamper port operations

October 18, 2011
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, MOMBASA, Kenya, Oct 18 – The torrential rains pounding parts of the coastal province have delayed operations at the Port of Mombasa, a situation that might result in the shortage of grains both in Kenya and the neighbouring countries.

Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Gichiri Ndua said in an advertisement that the rains were affecting discharge from ships and truck-loading at both the port and the container terminal areas.

This has in turn increased the number of ships waiting to berth from three at the end of August to 20.

“The more than expected rains disrupted port operations especially for products that are brought in bulk like sugar, wheat, maize and rice,” the MD said in the statement published in the local dailies.

Farmers, industries such as cement companies and countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi that depend on the Port of Mombasa will in the meantime have to put up with delays and in some instances the shortage of some commodities until the issue is resolved.

This is because areas handling grain, fertilisers, sugar, clinker steel and coal are some of the worst affected sections of the port.

The rains have also damaged the roads through which about 95 percent of commodities are delivered causing traffic congestion between Miritini and Changamwe.

“With trucks taking as long as six hours to reach the port, truck turnaround time has been heavily hampered. Hence cargo off-take from the port is at dismal place with the total delivery over the weekend standing at 1,271 TEUs (Twenty-foot equivalent units) compared to the normal 3, 000 TEUs,” the MD further explained.

Overall, the container population is up 13,361 TEUs up from 12,993 TEUs last week, a scenario that can be attributed to the lack of proper documentation.

This has been occasioned by numerous and persistent power outages that have also hampered equipment performance.

Ndua however said that they have a plan that should help reduce the congestion at the port and ensure that the vessels offload their contents quickly.

KPA, he disclosed, has deferred some of the rehabilitation works at the dock and the yards in order to facilitate more cargo operations.

By so doing, they are expecting at least 13 ships will complete operations and sail in the next three days although this is dependent on whether the weather improves.

“Meanwhile, all the new ship-to-shore cranes are fully operational while demolition of shed numbers four and five is complete,” Ndua added while emphasising that they were doing everything possible to boost the port’s performance.

“We would like to reassure our customers of our continued commitment to giving an acceptable level of service and that we are working on modalities to ensure that we recover lost time once the rains subside,” he stressed.

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