Tororo dry port to begin operations by 2012

Monday November 1 2010

Cargo trucks from Mombasa outside Uganda Revenue Authority Nakawa Yard. Picture by Morgan Mbabazi

Cargo trucks from Mombasa outside Uganda Revenue Authority Nakawa Yard. Picture by Morgan Mbabazi 

By Fred Oluoch

After nearly three years of juggling officialdom, bureaucracy and outright opposition from competitors, the Tororo Inland Dry Port is finally underway and is to begin operations by November 2012.
The port is expected to speed up transportation of goods to Uganda and the Great Lakes region, as well as ease congestion at the Kilindini harbour on the Kenyan coast.
According to Muhamed Jaffer, the chairman of the Great Lakes Ports Ltd of Kenya — owners of the Tororo port— landlocked Uganda, which has been suffering undue delays, loss of cargo through diversions and pilferage will benefit greatly from the facility.
“The port of Mombasa is a transit area and not a storage area. Cargo destined for Uganda should go there directly, and be cleared from there. Goods in transit will now take four days, down from 15, to arrive in Uganda,” he said.
The proposed 200-acre port is less than a kilometre from Malaba border post and is being built at a cost of Ksh9.6 billion ($120 million).
The dry port concept means a seaport is directly connected to inland terminals by rail, where containers are handled in the same way as they would be at a seaport.
The firm is also building a $50 million handling facility in Changamwe, Mombasa which all sea borne Ugandan goods will pass through and later feed to the Inland Port at Tororo. The facility will ensure an efficient process in the clearance, handling and delivery of sea borne traffic.
But the Great Lakes Ports Ltd will have to grapple with the fact that the delays at the Mombasa port are due to inefficiency and lack of equipment, which might have a bearing on their undertakings.
However, since 2005 the Mombasa port has been delivering advanced container handling equipment that has improved efficiency, but the movement of goods to the hinterland remains a challenge.
The inadequacy of the container-stocking yard is evidenced by the high Container Dwell Time of over 18 days, with an average 12,500 containers, against a capacity of 6,000. Because the port of Mombasa is only a handling area, storage costs remain high, as a way of discouraging importers from leaving their cargo at the facility for too long.
Operations at the dry port will be governed by the terms of the licence issued by the Uganda government. But first, the Uganda Ports Authority Act will need to be enacted.
Mr Jaffer dismisses fears that the development will result in a loss of business at the Mombasa port. “Business is secure as there will be an increased turnaround time for the cargo. We will be paying transporters because we don’t want to enter the transport business. Everything that is happening in Mombasa will happen in Tororo — contents of containers will be scanned and revealed,” he said.