Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has successfully commenced night navigation operations of fully-laden petroleum products vessels at the port of Mombasa.
An oil tanker, also known as a petroleum tanker, is a ship designed for bulk transporting oil or its products. At the same time, the Likoni pedestrian bridge was closed indefinitely for renovations as KPA launched the night pilotage of oil.
The port authorities are hopeful that once the night navigation system is implemented the turnaround time for oil tankers which is currently around 3 days will be reduced by at least 12 hours.
Under night navigation protocols, an oil vessel carrying imported 105,000 cubic meters of gasoline berthed at the new Kipevu Oil Terminal (KOT).
The new Ksh 40 billion KOT has increased oil handling capacity at the port which can handle four ships as compared to one ship that used to dock at the old Kipevu oil terminal.
The event at the wee hours of the night was witnessed by senior port authorities led by the Managing Director (MD) Capt. William Ruto.
“As KPA, we expect the daily operational capacity at the port of Mombasa to increase with the commencement of the night navigation operations for large vessels laden with petroleum products,” he said, adding that the move will attract more local and foreign investors to the port.
He said the night berthing will allow the port to essentially operate on a 24/7 basis as KPA seeks to make cargo operations on oil tankers safer.
“When it comes to cargo operations on oil tankers, utmost care should be taken during the loading and discharging operations because of the extremely hazardous nature of the liquid cargo,” said Ruto, a qualified ship captain.
Ruto described the commencement of night operations for oil vessels as a groundbreaking development that will in the long run improve overall port performance.
“This marks the successful commencement of fully operational night navigation for oil tankers calling at the port of Mombasa and is a major breakthrough in oil import handling operations in Kenya,” said Ruto, adding that this will further improve port efficiency and traffic movement.
He said, “It should be noted that through this new initiative of night berthing, we seek to further resolve port congestion and save heavy demurrages faced by the importers. Demurrage is a fee attached to cargo that has overstayed its time at a port terminal.
He said lack of night navigation caused inordinate delays which were damaging for the shipping operations resulting in serious monetary losses to importers.
The KPA MD said previously the Mombasa port, the gateway to East and Central Africa, could not undertake night berthing due to safety concerns.
The Port of Mombasa is the main gateway to the Eastern African region, serving a wide and rapidly growing hinterland consisting of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Northern Tanzania, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Somalia.
“We are glad to inform port stakeholders that we have put in place robust safety and security measures that would allow for efficient and effective supply of petroleum products for domestic and transit markets,” said Ruto. The port already operates more or less on a 24/7 basis,
He said the move will ensure efficient operations of ports and terminals which are critical for the region’s energy security, noting that they are determined to ensure the growth and competitiveness of the country’s commercial seaports.
The port boss said improving the turnaround time of vessels and reducing cargo time is critical to attracting more vessels to the region. He revealed that the Mombasa port will continue to strive for improvement in its efficiency, facilitating the port users and assisting the regional economies.