Kenya Port's Post-Panamax project ahead of schedule

An Aerial view of the Mombasa port
THE CONSTRUCTION OF the second container terminal at the Port of Mombasa in Kenya  is three months ahead of schedule, we can report. This is the second project in the on-going upgrading of the Port into a Mega port to be completed ahead of the schedule in less than a year.

A mega port is a full service port that has the capacity to handle post-Panamax vessels. These are vessels that can carry more than 10,000 TEUs and are up to 350 metres long.

Last year, the deepening of the port and the widening of the Likoni channel and the turning basin was completed four months ahead of schedule.

According to the Managing Director of the Kenya Ports Authority, by the end of May this year, construction of the second container terminal, which began last December, was 38 per cent complete. At that point, he said, it was three months ahead of schedule meaning that Phase of one of the project could be complete by the end of 2015. Initially, the project was expected to come on stream in March 2016.
A post-Panamax marine Vessel

The completion of this phase will increase the Port’s containers handling capacity by 1.25 Million TEUs raising the total container handling capacity to 1.7 million TEUs. Currently the container terminal has a capacity of 450,000 TEUs.

Robust economic growth both in Kenya and among her landlocked neighbours such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan generated increased demand for imports and exports through the port.
This growth coupled with the rapid expansion of vessel sizes has stretched the capacity of the port, which is the hub of shipping business in east and central Africa, to a snapping point.

 For instance the container terminal was built in 1980 to handle just 250,000 TEUs a year. Last year, it handled a total of 903,463 TEUs. That is four-times beyond its capacity. This resulted in unwarranted delays in cargo discharge and the associated costs. Being the gateway to east Africa, congestion at the port increased the cost of doing business in the region.

The second source of pressure for the port was advance in construction of freighters. In order to minimize average costs, shipping Lines were investing in large capacity vessels. In 1996, says an analysis by the Kenya Ports Authority which is in charge of all ports in Kenya, the largest vessel had a capacity of 4000 TEUs. This grew progressively to 11,000 TEUs in 2011 and is projected to rise to 20,000 TEUs by 2020.

This growth in vessels size also added pressure on major ports in Africa to invest in capacity expansion. The Mombasa Port was no exception. It has undergone several upgrades in the recent past the most recent of which was the dredging of the channels to -15 Metres.

The most recent expansion the upgrade of berth No 19 has added another 200,000 TEU’s to the existing capacity. The new capacity has raised the container handling capacity to 450 TEUs from this year on. It is on this capacity that the second container terminal will add 1.25 million TEUs, bringing the total capacity to 1.7 million TEUs.


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