The Port of Mombasa is capitalising on inefficiencies at the Port of Dar es Salaam as shipping companies opt for the expeditious and cost-effective route through Kenya.

Last week, the MV Jolly Giada arrived at the Port of Mombasa, unloading 2,000 Tonne Equivalent Units (TEUs) at the harbour.

Notably, 35 percent of this cargo, totaling 700 containers, constituted transit cargo destined for Dar es Salaam.

Dar es Salaam Port has grappled with a substantial backlog, imposing elevated costs on shippers through demurrage payments.

The Kenya Ports Authority reported a surge in initial calls to the Port of Mombasa, attributing the growth to operational efficiency enhancements that have significantly reduced ship waiting times.

“Mombasa has observed a rise in the number of initial calls to the port, with the growth credited to operational efficiency improvements that have led to decreased ship waiting times,” said Kenya Ports Authority.

Key metrics affirm the port’s increased competitiveness. The turnaround time for container vessels dropped from an average of three days in 2022 to two days in 2023.

Furthermore, the average container dwell time decreased to 3.5 days from 3.9 days in 2022, marking a 10 percent improvement.

Ship waiting time for containerised vessels was reduced to a mere 0.2 days, while the gross vessel turnaround time saw a substantial decline from 90.5 hours in 2022 to 64.1 hours in 2023.

The Port of Mombasa is experiencing a notable influx of transit cargo, primarily from landlocked countries diverting to Kenya due to quicker turnaround times in clearance processes, exacerbated by inefficiencies at the Port of Dar es Salaam.

Transit traffic witnessed robust growth, reaching 10.4 million tonnes in the 11 months leading up to November 2023.

Dar es Salaam Port, a primary regional rival to Kenya, grapples with severe congestion, leading to extended clearance times of up to seven days for vessels.

MV Jolly Giada marked the third vessel to dock at the Port of Mombasa under Messina’s full container vessel service, introduced late last year.