Container traffic through Kenya's biggest port grew by 7.5 percent in 2015 after new cargo-handling infrastructure was built, shortening the turnaround time for ships, port management said on Tuesday.
The Indian Ocean port
of Mombasa, the biggest in east Africa
and the region's trade gateway, handles imports of fuel and consumer goods and exports of tea and coffee from landlocked neighbours, such as Uganda and South Sudan. Its traffic considered a measure for economic activity in east Africa.
Acting managing director Catherine Muturi told a news conference in Mombasa that the port handled 26.7 million tonnes of cargo between January and December 2015, compared with 24.88 million tonnes handled during a similar period in 2014.
Container traffic increased by 6.3 percent to 1,076,118 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2015 from 1,012,002 TEUs registered in 2014.
"Although this performance falls short of our target of 1.1 million TEUs for last year, it is a manifestation that the port traffic is growing at a fast rate," Muturi said.
Imports totalled 22.68 million tonnes, an increase of 9.2 percent from the 20.77 million tonnes handled in 2014. Exports also increased by 5 percent to 3.53 million tonnes from 3.37 million tonnes in 2014.
But the volume of goods headed to neighbouring countries decreased by 28.4 percent, from 731,912 tonnes in 2014 to 523,993 in 2015, a trend Muturi attributed to the introduction of a new cargo-clearing system.
Uganda remained the biggest transit market, with its cargo growing by 8.2 percent to 5.98 million tonnes in 2015, from 5.52 million tonnes in 2014.
"This year we project to handle at least 1,142,837 TEUs of cargo, which will be a remarkable growth," said Muturi.
On Monday, the port officially got a second container terminal that had been under construction, which Muturi said would provide additional cargo-handling capacity of 550,000 TEUs per year.
(By Joseph Akwiri; Editing by Edith Honan, Larry King)