Centralized operations at KPA drive port efficiency

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CARGO dwell time at the Port of Mombasa has reduced from an average of 5.6 days in December 2020 to 4.6 days in January 2021.

This follows a raft of strategic operational changes implemented by the Authority. Recently Kenya Ports Authority took over the operations at Port Reitz Yard and reorganized the planning units of the logistics partners, increasing harmony in the operations of the unit hence increasing end-to-end efficiency in the port operations.

Dangerous cargo loading which was previously experiencing great delays due to distance of the loading zone from stacking blocks was improved by allowing it to be loaded at the now optimized line 12 at Port Reitz which is more efficient especially for cargo received at Container Terminal 2.

Additionally, centralization of the cargo handling processes and the recently introduced double deck wagons on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) have significantly contributed to increased deliveries to the Inland Container Depot.

Depot- Kenya Ports Authority

“Loading of double deck wagons has greatly boosted the number of containers being evacuated. We started with one double deck train of 38 wagons hauling 114 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit (TEUs) and this has now stabilized at two trains per week,” said the Acting Managing Director Eng. Rashid Salim.

A total of 10,072 TEUs have been evacuated in the past two weeks compared to 9,774 in the first two weeks of the year. A single double deck train currently hauls 114 TEUs on a single trip using up to 30 percent less resources compared to the normal single stack train.

The MD added that as at today, the port only allows up to four waiting ships on the queue with the numbers expected to drop in the coming week.

“In fact, we will be loading containers directly from the discharging vessels”, he said.

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The port’s performance recorded a decline in 2020 recording 1.360 million TEUs compared to 1.417 million TEUs witnessed in 2019.

The 4.0 percent decrease was attributed to disruptions to the supply chain because of   global lockdowns imposed due to the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

As part of improving the service delivery to customers across the region, KPA plans to enhance the use of Hand Held Terminals (HHT) for customers to get real time updates.

“We are in constant communication with our stakeholders to come up with more strategies for swift ship turnaround so that we not only improve efficiency but also jointly meet our obligations,” Salim explained.

Meanwhile forecast for the next two weeks shows that 14 vessels are expected to discharge 19,533 TEUs at the container terminals and load another 21,541 TEUs. The Conventional cargo is expected to receive 18 general cargo ships to discharge 330,623 metric tonnes and load 54,333 metric tonnes. 3 Tanker vessels expected as well to discharge 157,074 metric tonnes.

The Port of Mombasa is also gearing to handle up to one million tons per annum of raw material imports for the modern DEVKI Steel smelting plant currently under construction at Samburu, Kwale County, about 54 kilometers from Mombasa.

According to the KPA Board Chairman Gen Joseph Kibwana led a delegation of senior managers on a visit to the plant projected to be operational in June this year.

“This is a very serious industry not just in Kenya, but it is the biggest in Africa,” said the Chairman of DEVKI Group of Companies Dr. Narendra Raval “Guru”.

On his part Gen (Rtd) Kibwana affirmed that the Authority is customer oriented and follows its customers with a view to providing satisfactory services to them.

Bulk iron ore, coal, clinker, gypsum will form part of the imports by the plant. Last year, Devki’s bulk imports recorded 1.36 million tons making it the biggest customer on the conventional cargo side.

In January this year, the port of Mombasa has introduced double stack railing to improve cargo off take by the Standard Gauge Railway freight service. The service will now dispatch 152 containers from the current 108 containers enhancing faster cargo movement and increased efficiency at the port.

The Authority now aims at completing some of the major projects that have been under construction by year end, to further bolster efficiency and service delivery at the Port.

According to the acting MD Mr Salim, despite the challenges the Shipping Industry experienced last year due to the global pandemic, Port performance will further strengthen this year.

KPA is looking to complete the construction of the new Kipevu Oil Terminal as well as Phase 2 of the second container terminal which will further increase capacity at the port.

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Yvonne Kawira is an award winning journalist with an interest in matters, regional trade, tourism, entrepreneurship and aviation. She has been practicing for six years and has a degree in mass communication from St Paul’s University.

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