To avoid delays in clearing their cargo at the Mombasa Port, the business community has been advised to maximize the 24 hour working schedule put in place by the Port’s management earlier this year.
According to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), despite increasing their working hours at the Port to facilitate trade in the region, majority of trader still prefer to clear their cargo during day time (morning hours), creating congestion.
“Most people appear at 8.am to clear their goods yet the Port works 24 hours. We are appealing to the business community to take full advantage of the 24 working services,” said Engineer Joseph Atonga, the Chief of Operations at KPA during a stakeholders meeting recently.
Citing an improvement in container vessels turn around time of three days in the third quarter of 2009 from five days recorded in the same period last year, Atonga noted that reducing delays and congestion at the Port was essentially the idea behind the 24/7 operation as a means to facilitate trade in the region.
“However, the time clients take to claim their cargo normally takes time,” he said, pointing out that a shift to the new working schedule has increased container freight stations.
The average container dwell time is now 6.4 days against 13.1 days in 2008, reflecting an improvement of 51.1 percent (6.7 days).”
According to industry stakeholders, an analysis of logistics costs from the point of loading to the point of discharge shows that logistics costs in the import process accounts for about 42 percent of the total cost the final consumers pays for the goods.
The cost of delays represents a significant proportion of the whole import process cost, accounting for about 23 percent of the total import cost.
However KPA management said it has stepped up Port operations including automation of cargo handling services and integration of its systems as well as purchase of additional cargo handling equipment.
Currently, transit traffic constitutes 30 percent of total traffic handled at the Port for eight countries including Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern DRC, Northern Tanzania, Southern Sudan and Somalia.
Transit traffic last year grew by 10.2 percent to 4.87 million tonnes, up from 4.4 million tonnes in 2007.
In East Africa Rwanda ranks second in doing business at the Mombasa Port with 5.9 percent of the cargo handled by the port, behind Uganda which leads with 77 percent. Tanzania’s cargo traffic at the Port accounts for 5.5 percent while Burundi accounts for 0.6 percent.
To reduce the cost of using the Port, KPA slashed charges for scanning, verification and inspection to $75 for every 20 inches of container from $110 for each 40 inches since October 1, 2009.