Cargo traffic through the port of Mombasa grew by 10.1 percent in the first nine months of this year, boosted by expansion projects and new cargo handling infrastructure that shortened the turnaround time for ships, port management said on Monday.
Gichiri Ndua, the port’s managing director, said the total cargo passing through the port rose by 10.1 percent to 19.87 million tonnes between January and September, from 18.05 million tonnes handled in a similar period last year.
Container traffic increased by 10.8 percent to 809,984 TEUs (Twenty foot equivalent units) during this period from 731,300 TEUs last year, he said.
During this period, the volume of goods destined for neighbouring countries also increased, rising by 10.8 percent to 5.83 million tonnes, from 5.26 million tonnes last year.
Uganda remained the dominant cargo transit destination as it accounted for 77 percent of all transit cargo through the port.
“We have so far witnessed a steady increase in volumes and we expect to hit 26.5 million tonnes by end of this year,” said Ndua.
In 2014 the port handled 24.9 million tonnes of cargo, and if this projection is realised, it will represent a 6 percent total annual growth.
The Indian Ocean port, the biggest in east Africa and the region’s trade gateway, handles fuel and consumer goods imports as well as exports of tea and coffee from landlocked neighbours such as Uganda and South Sudan.
The port is seen as a measure for economic activity in east Africa as it handles imports for Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, and exports of tea and coffee from the region.
Kenya is building a $300 million second container terminal at Mombasa to handle increased trade within the region, driven by a sharp growth in construction, vast infrastructure development and an emerging middle class.
Plans for a second port in Lamu with a capacity of 23 million tonnes per year, are also underway.