KPA extends free storage period for cargo at port

An aerial view of the port of Mombasa in December 2021. 

An aerial view of the port of Mombasa in December 2021. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has announced the extension of the free storage period for container cargo handled in Mombasa and dry ports upcountry in its bid to attract more business.

Mombasa, which is facing increased competition from Dar es Salaam, experienced low cargo volumes last year. 

KPA has set out new offers targeting both local and transit importers using Mombasa Port and the inland container depots (ICDs) in Nairobi and Naivasha.

“Cargo handled at the port [of Mombasa] and at different ICDs ... have been offered 15 days free period from the current nine days while traders choosing to use Naivasha ICD will be given 30 days ... from the current nine,” the announcement read in part.

After the expiry of the 15 days, containers which will overstay for between 16 and 21 days will be charged $30 per day for 20 feet containers and $60 for 40 feet containers. KPA will charge $45 for cargo that will stay for more than 21 days for 20 feet container and $90 for 40 feet container. 

Kenya recently sent delegations to five countries that use Mombasa port in a bid to address key issues and also announced new promotional offers to traders using the port.

High transportation costs, increasing road tolls, multiple border charges, and road conditions have already been identified as factors that cause cost escalations for transporters on the Northern Corridor, which Dar es Salaam is taking advantage to cut a slice of Mombasa’s total cargo throughput share.

Tanzania advantage

Last year, Kenya lost close to over 1.1 million metric tonnes (MT) of cargo to Tanzania, according to data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). Mombasa port’s total cargo throughput shrunk to 33.74 million MT last year from 34.76 MT the year, a 2.93 per cent year-on-year drop, pushing the volumes to the lowest levels since 2018 when it stood at 30.92 MT.

Compared to Dar es Salaam, in the same period, cargo throughput on the Central Corridor increased from 14.04 million MT in 2017 to 19.02 million MT in 2022, according to the Northern Corridor Observatory Report.

Last week, the Kenyan delegation led by Kenya Ports Authority chairman Benjamin Tayari and Managing Director William Ruto visited Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan to market the port as they promise to undertake measures to reduce transport cost.

The delegation assured Uganda traders that KPA will also work closely with the Kenyan embassy in Uganda to organise business symposiums in the country.

Kenya is encouraging East African countries to use Naivasha and Nairobi ICDs for cargo clearance. The facilities are yet to break even since their construction, more so for transit goods.