Agencies kick off bid to make Mombasa port more efficient

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria addresses journalists while flanked by his Transport counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria (left) addresses journalists while flanked by his Roads and Transport counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen (centre) at the Kenya Ports Authority yard in Mombasa City on April 14, 2023.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

The multi-agency team working to reduce bottlenecks at the port of Mombasa has put forth a number of measures to improve efficiency and end delays in cargo clearance at the facility

Among the measures is directing all agencies handling cargo to clear them within 24 hours. 

Starting this week, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has been directed to open its 24-hour operation office within the port as the government merges its clearance system with that of the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).

Other measures that have come into force include logging into the integrated cargo acceptance and clearance system before the booked vessel docks at the port to avoid ship delays.

Export cargo that will not be logged into the Integrated Customs Management System (ICMS) and Kilindini Waterfront Automated Terminal Operations Systems (Kwatos) at their time of acceptance will not be approved for export.

Zero long-stay containers policy

“Going forward, as the government works towards a zero long-stay containers policy at the port, KPA and KRA are expected to operate 24 hours a day as opposed to previously when ships are offloaded at night while cargo clearance was done during the day. This will help in tracking cargo in one system without duplication of duties in two different government cargo handling agencies,” Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen said.

“Our focus is on facilitating exporters. Those are the people we are targeting because we have resolved that export of goods has been delayed due to this,” Mr Murkomen added. 

His Trade counterpart Moses Kuria said offloading of cargo has become easier compared to loading.

“It takes 18 hours to offload imported cargo but 72 hours to load export goods. The time difference shows that our exports-to-GDP [Gross Domestic Product] ratio has shrunk from 30 per cent to 10 per cent because our process is more facilitative for imports than they are for exports,” he said.

The two, who had co-chaired a multi-agency meeting at the port, urged KRA to work closely with other agencies to facilitate faster cargo clearance at the ports.

The meeting was also attended by KPA chairman Benjamin Tayari, Managing Director Captain William Ruto, KRA chairman Anthony Mwaura and Kenya Bureau of Standards chairman Jeremiah Kinyua. To speed up cargo screening, the government is considering increasing scanners and equipment to enable the agencies to focus on efficient service delivery.