Press Center | Freight Shipping Logistics News
They say that delayed implementation of vital projects to keep pace with the cargo volume growth, operations and administration challenges of moving containers to the privately operated Container Freight Stations (CFSs) and poor coordination between various government agencies have all conspired to bring the current crisis.
By last week, the volume of containers at the port yard reached a record of over 20,000 against an installed capacity of 14,500, which port officials blamed on Christmas break that affected normal operations.
When the port terminal is congested, it affects all the operations at the port, which include offloading containers from the vessels, loading to trucks and their movement and at the height of the crisis, it took a truck up to three days to exit the port.
Until the port creates extra capacity, with the total volume of cargo handled by the facility expected to stretch beyond the installed capacity of 20 million tonnes this year, similar problems will be common in the future.
The volumes of cargo flowing into the East African region in 2011 grew by 13 per cent, up from 11.5 per cent the previous year compared to the anticipated global rate of 6 per cent, said KPA managing director Gichira Ndua.
“Within this period we would not be able to create the same capacity needed to handle this growth,” Mr Ndua said, adding that the poor state of the rail currently managing delivery of only 5 percent of the containers has worsened the situation.
At the moment, KPA is undertaking two major projects – extension of berth 18 and construction of berth 19 as well as dredging of the port to accommodate bigger vessels.
The projects are behind schedule by more than three years, according to the port’s masterplan of 2004.
To arrest the current situation, KPA has asked CFS operators to provide reach stackers to assist in loading of excess containers. A delivery of 2365 containers had been reached by the close of last week.
However, according to Kenya Shippers Council (KSC) executive officer Gilbert Lang’at, the current efforts to clear the backlog will only offer a temporary relief and unless drastic measures are taken, there are fears of shipping lines slapping the punitive Vessel Delay Surcharge (VDS) on the port.
Shipping lines impose VDS on ports that are very inefficient and clearance of cargo is extremely slow.
The Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) vessels are already charging demurrages of over US $ 20,000 per day making the cost of gas remain high.
Mr Lang’at said there were strong indications that shipping lines might follow suit, adding: “If the current congestion at the port goes on for the next seven days, some sources within the shipping industry have told us that they will issue a notice for VDS.”
The Kenya Association of Manufactures executive officer Betty Maina said importers were incurring huge losses as a result of the delays.
PARASTATAL heads who signed the Mombasa port community charter risk being sacked if their agencies do not deliver on the contents of the new entity. The charter signed between the government and the private sector aims at improving the movement of cargo from the port into hinterland