Why ports struggled during the pandemic
Kenya Port Authority acting managing director John Mwangemi has appealed to regional countries to consider deploying systems to streamline movement of cargo and people for effective trade.
Speaking at a Mombasa hotel during the East Africa Maritime Awards (EAMA) 2020 ceremony, Mwangemi said unprecedented times like the Covid pandemic require the region to work together for seamless cross border trade.
“Covid has strengthened the case for digitisation in the shipping industry. Accepting digital copies instead of paper originals, pre-arrival processing, electronic payments and customs automation all help speed up international trade,” he said.
While referring to struggles in the maritime sector during the pandemic, Mwangemi observed that in the prevailing circumstances, the Port of Mombasa, like most ports, recorded a decline in cargo volumes in the year 2020.
Between January to December 2020 the total cargo throughput recorded at the Port of Mombasa was 34.12 million tonnes against 34.44 million tonnes in 2019, representing a marginal decline of 0.9 per cent.
“Container traffic declined by four per cent registering 1.36 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2020 compared to 1.42 million TEUs achieved in 2019.
Further, the disruption of supply chains also resulted in a drop of Transshipment traffic by 16.9 per cent,” said Mwangemi.
But during the period January — August 2021, a total of 23.9 million tonnes of cargo was recorded against 22.1 million tonnes handled in the corresponding period in 2020. This signified an increase of 1.79 million tonnes or 8.1 per cent.