PUBLISHED ON December 17th, 2014

Mombasa free port plan takes shape

A master plan for the Mombasa free port is set to be completed next year, paving the way for launch of the project expected to create thousands of new jobs.

The Cabinet earlier this year approved the development of a 1,000-acre free trade zone near the current Mombasa port. It is estimated that the free port could create up to 250,000 new jobs.

“We expect that the mode of investment will be private public partnership (PPP) in which private investors will be invited to develop various components of the project,” said Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) managing director Gichiri Ndua in an interview.

Plans to build the mega port were mooted more than five years ago.

Establishment of the first duty free port in the region is expected to increase direct foreign investment in the country, create employment and boost regional trade.

The announcement comes in the backdrop of increasing regional imports. Registered total throughput in 2013 hit 22.3 million tonnes up from 21.9 million tonnes handled in the previous year, according to Mr Ndua.

“There are indications that by year-end we shall have handled over 24 million tonnes,” he added.

The total cargo handled in the first ten months of this year registered a growth of 9.3 per cent to 20.4 million tonnes up from 18.6 million tonnes in 2013.

In the same period, imports grew by 6.5 per cent posting 17.1 million tons compared to 16 million tonnes, while exports increased by 13.4 percent to 2.8 million tonnes up from 2. 5 million tonnes in the previous year.

“Transit traffic in the same period has also recorded an impressive growth rate of the 5.3 per cent registering 5.9 million tonnes up from 5.6 million tons last year. Our biggest transit market, Uganda, has continued its usage of the port, increasing by 9.1 per cent.”

Rwanda and Burundi recorded a modest growth of 11 and 13.6 per cent respectively; Sudan retained the position of the second largest transit market despite a 2 per cent drop due to political instability.

The Democratic Republic of Congo declined by 21.7 per cent although it still remained at position 3 as a major transit market,” the MD said.

Since the commissioning of berth 19, trans-shipment traffic (a key segment of cargo traffic) has increased 279.7 per cent to 492, 000 tons of cargo against 129,000 tons handled in 2013.

Mombasa Port’s capacity is expected to increase by 1.2 million Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) when construction of the Sh26 billion second container terminal – which is funded by the Japanese government – is completed in early 2016.

Source: Business Daily

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