The president’s reiteration that we are custodians of the Gateway to the East Africa upon whom our regional brothers depend brought a ray of hope that the Mombasa Port is deadly serious about maintaining its lead over any competition that can be mustered south of Kenya’s border.
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni’s commissioning of the Sh5.6 billion facility and the presence of Rwandan President Paul Kagame during the occasion that will be hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta underlines the fact we’re still number one in the race.
But that should not make us complacent. Although the new berth increases the port’s capacity by 33 per cent, the country will only be able to keep its lead position only if it maintains the momentum of the changes it has been undertaking recently to fix the failures that have allowed Dar-es-Salaam to steal business away from Mombasa. As it stands, the amount of cargo meant for the hinterland of Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi that has been diverting from Mombasa and going through Dar-es-Salaam has grown by an average of 25 per cent annually.
That President Kenyatta is aware of the need for Mombasa to retake its position as the leader is clear from his directives in June aimed at massive reforms at the port and along the transport and logistics corridor. The directive required the Kenya Ports Authority MD of to take charge of all the operations around the facility to reduce delays. The directive also required institutions to work round the clock and abolished the scanning of trans-shipment cargo and trans-shipment bonds.
It also required alignment of organisations’ processes to be compatible with the National Single Window Systems and removed roadblocks and weighbridges except for the one at Mariakani.
And now, the new berth, constructed at an estimated cost of Sh5.8 billion means that the port now has additional capacity of 200,000 twenty-foot equivalent per annum. This will greatly help ease the movement of cargo in the region and boost the attractiveness of Mombasa port in the face of competition from neighbouring Tanzania.
These are all signs of progress though much work remains to be done. An effective port backed by an effective infrastructural network will do a lot towards propelling the country towards greater prosperity.
| 30 Aug 2013