The Port of Mombasa faces a congestion nightmare of empty containers as Kenya’s main regional gateway resumes full operations after a two-year hiatus from Covid-19.
The port has received an increased number of empty crates after shipping companies began cleaning up containers lying at various shipyards in the region.
One solution proposed by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) was to bring two container handling equipment from the Nairobi Inland Container Depot to be “reassembled and put back into service to improve container stacking at the port yards”. said a KPA official.
The increased activity in Mombasa is also due in part to the relocation of clearing services from Nairobi and Naivasha in a new directive from President William Ruto.
However, clearing and forwarding agents have raised concerns about lost revenue due to container storage issues.
According to the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa), Kenya loses more than US$1.4 billion in container depot fees to shipping companies annually, even though containers are no longer stored at container freight stations.
“We have petitioned the government to review the $70 per container fee we have been paying since 2018 for cargo bound for Nairobi and other areas of East Africa.
“With about 2.1 million containers passing through the port annually, we are losing billions to shipping companies and if left unchecked we will continue to impose such unaccounted for levies,” said Kifwa Chairman Roy Mwanthi.
A shortage of containers has meant sea freight rates have doubled over the past two years, as logistics players have urged ports in East Africa to increase restrictions on empty containers at their facilities to allow more to be sent back.