Regional leaders to launch Mombasa Port Charter

By Stanley Wabomba

The launch of the charter is expected to help double EA trade value to 2.94 trillion shillings by 2016

Regional leaders led by President Uhuru Kenyatta are on Monday expected at the coast to launch the Mombasa Port Community Charter that brings together 24 agencies that will co-ordinate their activities to improve efficiency at the port.

The launch of the charter and the single window platform is expected to help double East African trade value to 2.94 trillion shillings by the year 2016.

Over the last ten years, the port of Mombasa has recorded unprecedented growth in cargo volumes, with total traffic increasing by 7 percent while containerized cargo grew by 10 per cent annually.

This rapid growth has exerted pressure on the port’s infrastructure with the current container terminal, which was designed to handle a capacity of 250,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units now handling more than 894,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units.

However, investments in the infrastructure at the Port of Mombasa have lagged behind by at least a decade.

Consequently, the region experiences high transit time leading to increased costs of transporting goods between the Port of Mombasa and load centres.

In addition, freight costs per kilometre are more than 50 percent higher than costs in the United States and Europe, and for the landlocked countries, transport costs can be as high as 75 per-cent of the value of exports.

Trade Mark East Africa projects that poor infrastructure, delays in cargo clearance and lengthy custom procedures account for about 60 percent of the cost of imports which is passed on to consumers.

The charter will see 13 public entities, eight private actors and three special bodies commit to work together to co-ordinate their activities in a bid to further improve efficiency at the Port of Mombasa.

Data from the Kenya Ports Authority shows that cargo turn-around time in 2013 fell to 3.5 days from 4.6 days a year earlier, while container dwell-time dropped to five days from seven.

This is expected to drop further with the signing of the charter by the port community.

Trade Mark East Africa projects that the launch of the charter and the single window platform will help double East African trade value to Sh2.94 trillion by the year 2016 by enhancing market accessibility, improving trade environment and increasing competitiveness.