Mombasa port has recorded impressive operational performance at its container terminal in the last few weeks.The port realised a record 1,117 moves in 24 hours mid last week in the handling of MV MSC Eagle.

The vessel that had docked at berth 17 had earlier recorded 555 moves in a full shift of eight hours. The acting terminal manager, Mr Sudi Mwasinago, said effective equipment and labour utilisation on the vessel resulted to the exemplary performance.He noted the performance is way above the agreement between KPA and the East African Conferences Lines (EACL) that requires the port to maintain a threshold above 200 moves per 24 hours. As for the performance contracting between KPA and the government, the port is required to attain 136 moves per shift, translating into 408 moves every 24 hours.

“The splendid performance is attributed to the improved co-ordination and supervision of ship and yard operations,” said Mr Sylvan Mghanga.

Other factors he cited include adequate space in the yards, optimum labour, equipment and motivated staff. Starting mid last month, the port has been registering general improved performance in a number of areas. The total container population has reduced drastically from 15,000 TEUs in January to 10,000 TEUs this week, against total yard holding capacity of 15,000 TEUs.

The port management also attributes this to efficiency in cargo deliveries by road which currently stands at about 1,000 TEUs per 24 hours. The last week record performance is only comparable to 1,076 moves per 24 hours realised in the handling of MV Msc Sudan in September 2006.

Earlier in the year, a record performance was realised on the handling of MV. Nordstar of Maesk Lines, which recorded 924 moves in 24 hors and 453 moves in one shift.Moves per hour or per 24 hours is the most efficient index of measuring port performance, which tallies the number of containers moved from a vessel to the yard or from the yard to the vessel.

But even as the port remained upbeat on its improved performance, the clearing agents say the Kenya Revenue Authority’s Orbus system that is used for payment of duties has failed them.“We recognise the improved performance on the part of the KPA, but we are very frustrated by the KRA over the constant and sometimes prolonged system failure,” says Mr Gerald Kagumo, the chairman of the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa).

The KRA was yet to say precisely what the cause of the problem was but officials at the Mombasa Long Room assured the clearing agents that their IT experts were trying to sort out the problem.