Covid-19: KPA loses business as virus ravages economy

Tuesday June 02 2020

Trucks wait to collect cargo at the port of Mombasa in October last year. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The Port of Mombasa has recorded a marginal drop in the total container traffic in the first quarter of 2020 compared to a similar period last year due to challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic that has disrupted supply value chains and trading patterns for both imports and exports, the latest port report indicates.
This raises doubts of the port  attaining its 35.9 million tonnes throughput and 1.49 million 20 foot equivalent units (TEUs) target in 2020 as stated in the Kenya Ports Authority’s (KPA) master plan.
Latest port performance from KPA figures seen by the Nation show that the port handled 445,435 TEUs in the four months of this year, down from 454.466 over a similar period last year, a clear manifestation of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on containers handled.
Save for transit traffic, the port recorded a drop in the number of tonnage traffic on imports, exports, local containers handling, and transshipment traffic.


The ports total throughput for the quarter dropped by 2.1 per cent to 11.3 million tonnes, down from 11.5 million over a similar period last year.

This was also way off the target of 11.8 million the port agency had given itself for the quarter.
China which was the epicenter of the pandemic and being among the top trading partners with Kenya contributes 29.2 per cent of the full import containers or 9.9 per cent of the total cargo throughput handled in the port as per 2019 Port Statistics, the impact on the traffic and revenue was immediately felt after it closed its territories to contain the spread of virus.

The big container liners from China such as Evergreen and Cosco line and several bulk carriers cancelled normal calls in the first quarter due to the virus.

This saw the imports tonnage handled at the port drop to 9.2 million tonnes, down from 9.3 million tonnes last year. This was also below the quarter’s target of 9.7 million tonnes.



Exports were also curtailed due to restrictions in Europe, US and other export markets as measures to contain the pandemic that was spreading globally were effected.

In terms of exports, Mombasa port recorded a drop to 1.42 million tonnes for the quarter, as compared to 1.45 million over a similar period last year. This was way below the target for the counter of 1.49 million tonnes.

The country recorded its biggest growth in transit traffic, mostly because of the lower Covid-19 cases as compared to its competitor Tanzania, which saw Dar es Salaam and Burundi increase their transit traffic through the Mombasa port.

The transit tonnage grew to 3.4 million tonnes in the four months to April, up from 3.2 million tonnes over a similar period last year.