An SDV Transami inland container depot at Embakasi, Nairobi on the Left.

A dry port terminal being constructed by logistics company SDV Transami is set for completion next month, easing congestion at the Mombasa port and saving traders costs associated with delays. The Port of Mombasa is already under pressure from increased trade in Kenya and neighbours Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and the Great Lakes region.

“With Kenya’s growing economy, there is need for the Port of Mombasa to become more competitive by increasing its efficiency. The intention is to have the new terminal as a holding ground that will ease congestion there,” said Mr Tony Stenning, the SDV Transami regional managing director.

Since 2000, container traffic at the port has grown eight per cent annually, according to the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA). In 2007, the port handled 585,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (Teus) against an installed capacity of 250,000 Teus. Last year, the port handled over 620,000 Teus.

News of the completion of the Sh700 million terminal comes just weeks after the Kenya Ports Authority invited bids for the extension of berths at Mombasa port to enable the gateway handle larger vessels. Once the work is complete on berths 18 and 19, the port will simultaneously handle three ships measuring 760 metres, managing director Gichiri Ndua said.

Shipping firms have in the recent past been introducing surcharge due to delays at the port, which end up increasing the cost of doing business in Kenya. It is estimated that delays and corruption at the port add up to 30 per cent on consumer prices for imports. As a result, Tanzania has been selling the its facility in Dar es Salaam as an alternative route. A new measure to establish a dry port in Tororo, Uganda could also help ease congestion at the Port of Mombasa. The inland port will quicken cargo clearance at the Mombasa for goods bound for Uganda and the Great Lakes region.

“The port will significantly improve efficiency in cargo handling thereby reducing freight costs and demurrage occasioned by long delays,” said Mr Mohamed Jaffer of Great Lakes Ports.