Kenya Ports Authority cargo traffic up 13 percent in January-June.

Kenya Ports Authority cargo traffic up 13 percent in January-June.

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Container traffic through the port of Mombasa grew by 12.8 percent between January and June, boosted by ongoing expansion in capacity and enhanced efficiency to reduce the time goods stay at the port, the port’s management said on Wednesday.

KPA, East Africa’s biggest port is an indicator for economic activity in the region as it handles imports such as fuel and consumer goods for Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, and exports of tea and coffee from the region.

“The total cargo throughput between January and June 2014, rose by 12.8 per cent to 11.9 million tonnes from 10.5 million tonnes in a similar period last year,” Gichiri Ndua, the port’s managing director, said in a statement sent to newsrooms.

“Container traffic grew from 415,948 TEUs (Twenty foot equivalent units) last year to 463,920 TEUs this year, representing 11.5 per cent growth, which is above the global average growth rate of eight per cent per year,” Ndua said.

Volume of goods destined for neighboring countries increased by 9.6 percent to 3.53 million tonnes compared to 3.22 million tonnes recorded over a similar period in 2013, he said, an increase he attributed to the opening of the new berth no. 19 at the port in August last year, improved cargo handling infrastructure, and removal of non-tariff barriers.

The port is also building a $300 million second container terminal to handle increased trade within the region, driven by a sharp growth in construction, infrastructure development and agriculture.

During this period imports grew by 11.7 percent posting 10.06million tonnes compared to 8.90 million tonnes registered in 2013, Ndua said, while exports rose by 13.9 per cent to 1.65 million tonnes up from 1.45 million tonnes in 2013.

“Uganda, our biggest transit market, has continued to increase its usage of the port. In the first six months of this year, Uganda cargo handled at the port increased by 14.4 per cent to 2.72 million tonnes compared to 2.38 million tonnes in 2013.”

Rwanda recorded 12.5 per cent growth of 110,540 tonnes up from 98,240 tonnes in 2013.

The port has invested in cargo handling infrastructure in a move aimed at further reduction of the ship turnaround time and cargo dwell time.

“This year, we received nine new reach stackers, ten manual spreaders and 12 terminal tractors. We expect two more reach stackers in August and 12 rubber tyred gantry cranes later this year,” explained Ndua.

In June president Uhuru Kenyatta led government agencies, private companies and civil society organizations in signing the Mombasa Port Community Charter, aimed at boosting efficiency along the Northern Corridor, and to eliminate cargo delays at the port by 2016.

The country is also in the process of constructing a second port in Lamu with a capacity of 23 million tonnes per year.