According to Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau, the move is aimed at ensuring faster operations at the port and enhance efficiency.
One of the main qualifications of the firm to manage the berths will be experience in operating a berth with a capacity of 400,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers.
The company must also be ready to own 51 percent of the facility, with the remaining 49 percent going to Kenyan investors.
“After the procurement process is over, which we are going to commence maybe in another months time, we will start international competitive bidding,” Kamau said during a business stakeholders meeting organised by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) in Nairobi.
The CS said the government wants Kenyans to own the facility through the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).
He however emphasised that there are no plans to privatise the whole port of Mombasa as alluded earlier.
“All people who are working up to berth 19 will continue working as usual because this is additional capacity. So it is more people coming in, it is more employment, it is faster movement of cargo and of course fulfilling the conditionality of the loan,” he said.
The construction of the berths will cost the government a total of Sh23billion and will be able to handle a capacity of over 550,000 TEU containers annually.
“At the moment there is no berth 20 and 21; it is under construction. But the contractor will finish the work by February 2016.”
In the last six months, container traffic at the Mombasa port realised a growth rate of 11. 5 percent reaching 463,807 TEUs compared to 415,958 registered during the same period in 2013.
“I wish to note that this is above the average growth rate of 8percent per annum,” KPA Managing Director Gichiri Ndua said.
Total cargo during the six months grew by 12.8 percent having handled 11.9 million tons up from 10.5million ton handled in 2013.