The construction of a road linking the port of Mombasa and Burundi is now complete, with the road expected to cut distance to the landlocked country by 358 kilometres.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the 1,545 kilometre road links the port through Holili, Singida-Kobero border and finally to Bujumbura.
The road will reduce the distance from Mombasa to Bujumbura through the Northern corridor by 358 kilometres.
“That will enhance Mombasa port’s accessibility in the region,” said Mr Macharia during a Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) stakeholders’ luncheon in Nairobi.
“To ease traffic flow between the port of Mombasa and the hinterland, also construction of a dual carriage way between Mombasa and Mariakani is ongoing and will be completed in 2020. The government plans to eventually extend the dualing of the highway to Malaba via Nairobi,” added the CS.
A feasibility study on the Mombasa-Bujumbura route kicked off in 2014.
According to the East African Community website, the road is one of the two transit corridors that facilitate import and export activities in the region, with the northern corridor (1,700km long) commencing from the port of Mombasa and serves Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern DRC.
“The central corridor (1,300km) begins at the port of Dar es Salaam and serves Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Eastern DRC,” said the website.
Last week, KPA managing director Daniel Manduku told stakeholders in Nairobi that between January and June, the port of Mombasa handled 4.6 million tonnes of transit cargo, up from 4.3 tonnes the same period last year.
In the first six months, the port handled 15.3 million tonnes compared to 15 million tonnes during the same period last year, which represents an increased throughput of 358,853 tonnes.
In the same period, container traffic also increased by 30,964 teus, from 583.661 teus to 614.625 teus.
“Similarly, cargo destined to our transit markets grew by 7.3 percent, from 4.3 million tonnes to 4.6 million tonnes while transshipment traffic recorded 54,692 teus compared to 38,072 teus during the same period last year. That is an increase of 43.7 percent,” Dr Manduku said.
He added that in last year’s ranking of the top global container ports, a strong performance by ports was reflected, with four new entrants achieving more than a million teus.
“The good news is that Mombasa maintained its position as being among the top 120 ports globally and number six in Africa after Tanger-med in Morocco, Durban in South Africa, Alexandria in Egypt and Lagos in Nigeria,” he said.
“On the other front, ships are getting bigger. Today, the biggest ship — OOCL Hong Kong built and delivered in May 2017 is 400 metres long and has a capacity of 21,413 teus.”
Many shipping lines have also come together to form mega alliances to enjoy the economies of scale. Experts have concluded that if this business realignment trend continues in the next decade, there might only be few container shipping lines with mega vessels controlling the market.
“This development puts pressure on ports and terminal operators to expand capacity and modernise facilities to accommodate this generation of vessels,” he said.
“Equally, the ultra-competitive environment and complexity of supply chains requires reliable actors notably; producers, logistics providers and ocean carriers, to provide services with few interruptions,” Dr Manduku added.
Already, the organisation is engaged in ambitious Sh120 billion expansion meant to cushion its position as the East Africa region’s biggest port facility.
Currently, KPA is undertaking the construction of the Sh20 billion Shimoni port, the Sh40 billion new Kipevu Oil Terminal, the construction of the Sh30 billion second container terminal at the port of Mombasa and the construction of the Sh30 billion Dongo Kundu free trade port.
“Everyone looks for good business opportunities and we know that the Rwandan market is growing. Since we are aware of that, then we have played role in making sure that we support the Rwanda business market,” said Dr Manduku.
He said that with the KPA aware that Tanzania is an alternative corridor for importers in the great lakes region, and that there was need to be competitive to ward off competition.
Dr Manduku said KPA has also started the construction of the second container terminal.