The port of Mombasa should be handed over to autonomous companies to increase efficiency, a new report sponsored by the East African Community (EAC) has recommended.
The report by the Society for International Development (SID) titled the State of East Africa 2012 recommends that the port should be declared an ‘East Africa hot zone’ and handed independent status like the port of Dubai and Boston.
“East African Community countries should get together and appoint companies who know best how to run ports like Dubai or the port of Boston,” said the report in one of its proposals.
East African countries such as Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda rely on the Kenya Ports Authority-managed Mombasa port and the one in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Mombasa port has been blamed for delaying goods destined for Nairobi for as long as 42 days. On average it takes about 20 days for a container to go through the port to Nairobi. It takes 24 days for the container to travel from Mombasa to Kigali.
Officials at the port of Mombasa, however, blame the log jam on the road and rail infrastructure.
“We are off-loading more containers than we can take out; we normally off-load as many as 2,000 containers a day but due to bad roads and excessive weigh bridges we can only take out 1,300 containers a day,” said communications manager at Kenya Ports Authority Hajj Masemo.
The port normally has about 700 uncollected containers daily leading to a build up of cargo in the port.
Mr Masemo also attributed the problems to poor customer management system which tends to delay cargo clearance.
More than 95 per cent of the cargo from the port to Nairobi is hauled over the road network, causing traffic congestion.
The rail line has been reduced from ferrying 20 per cent of cargo to the current four per cent.
The Ministry of East African Community (EAC), however, says that member states are acting out of frustration and that such measures may not necessarily work.
“We are dealing with members who are frustrated and want to have something done, but giving KPA to an independent company may not give us those results,” said Peter Njoroge, deputy director of economic affairs at the ministry.
The total freight handled by Mombasa port increased to push the container traffic to 696,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2010 from 619,000 TEUs in 2009.