The total Rwandan bound cargo handled by the Mombasa Port dropped last year by 14 percent from 293 million tonnes in 2008 to 250 million tonnes in 2009 as a result of the global economic recession on the economy.
Rwanda which accounts for 5 percent of the transit cargo at the port particularly had its exports reduce sharply from 16.8 million tonnes in 2008 to 14.4 million tonnes in 2009.
Imports also reduced from 276.6 million tonnes in the previous year to 236.0 million tonnes.
According to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) which is charged with management of the port, generally transit traffic showed a slight decline with a drop in both imports and exports resulting from a fall in coffee shipments.
However, KPA says figures by end of last year there was significant improvement in particular in the second half .Total transit cargo rose from 4.8 million tonnes in 2008 to 5.0 million tonnes in 2009.
“We have seen an increment in volumes of cargo coming to the region. We are also happy that there is a lot of infrastructure development in the region for instance the roads on the Rwandan side are in very good shape and security along the Northern Corridor has improved drastically,” William Mtego, the Resident Representative for transit countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi told Business Times last week.
Mtengo also dismissed media reports in the past that have indicated Rwandan bound cargo being stuck at the Mombasa Port.
“This is not true. My office is open to assist and facilitate the immediate removal of such cargo if somebody has tangible evidence to prove that their cargo is unnecessary delayed at the Port. Ports are not storage areas; there are only transit areas where cargo comes in and goes out,” he explained.
The official also called upon Rwandan business men in particular those in transport business to take advantage of the provisions of the Common Market protocol to expand their business.
“We are aware that there very good forwarding and clearing agencies in Kigali. Since it is easy to move across the region, move into one area to do business we urge as many Rwandan companies as possible to come and set up shop in Mombasa and also be able to facilitate and coordinate their own transit cargo instead relying on Kenyan companies,” he said.
KPA says turnaround time for containerships significantly improved by reducing to three days much of last year compared to an average of five days in 2008.
“This is largely attributed to more efficient port operations with a greater yard space and improved turnaround time of terminal tractors,” a report from KPA reads in part.
Average container dwell time fell to 6.4 days compared with 13.1 days in 2008, an improvement of 51.1 percent or 6.7 days due to the new 24 hour working schedules and opening of more container freight stations.
The total freight handled by the Port rose by over 10 percent from 16.41 million tonnes in 2008 to 19.06 million tonnes in 2009.