Shipping agents say delays at Kenyan port costing them millions

Shipping agents want the Kenya Ports Authority ( KPA) management to reduce congestion at the port.
In a letter to the Managing Director Gichiri Ndua, and copied to Ministry of Transport Principal Secretary Nduva Muli, Kenya Maritime Authority Director General Nancy Karigithu and KPA Chairman Danson Mungatana, the agents through their lobby, Kenya Ship Agents Association (KSAA), say the deteriorating productivity at the Mombasa port is costing them millions of shillings.
They argue the waiting time across all vessels has ‘drastically’ increased since April this year and that the number of vessels waiting at anchorage per week is increasing. “The situation is especially dire for the container terminal, where productivity does not exceed 30 berth moves per hour,” said David Mackay, chairman of the KSAA in the letter. “Where there has been a decent performance, it should be noted that this has come about as a result of arm-twisting and payment of incentives to make people work.”
Last week, KPA had in a notice told shipping lines and agents that it will limit the number of empty containers for export to 500 per vessels.
KPA General Manager – Operations, Capt Twalib Kahmis, said vessels with container exchange of more than 3,000 teus were to berth at berth 17 and 18 on priority basis, in a temporary measure to address congestion, shipping waiting time and space constraints caused by ongoing yard civil works. KSAA however adds that it expects KPA to improve the waiting time and number of vessels waiting in Mombasa to curb declining productivity at the port. Ship owners say they incur losses because assets lie idle at anchorage or extra fuel is burned to make up for lost time and maintain schedule, costing ship owners up to $40,000 (Sh3.5 million) per day per vessel.
But the KPA management blames importers and transporters for the mess, adding that despite improved port efficiencies, importers delay submitting their documents to relevant clearing agents to speed up cargo clearing. The delays in cargo clearance are hurting business at the port. KPA has also expressed concern over the low number of trucks available to collect cargo at the port. While KPA is capable of delivering 2,000 twenty-foot containers in a day, the number of trucks is insufficient to handle the cargo, leading to delays. Even with a single electronic clearance window, containers still stay at the port for up to five days.