Mombasa choking with containers

Wednesday October 12 2022

The port of Mombasa faces a congestion nightmare, comprising empty containers. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


The port of Mombasa faces a congestion nightmare, comprising empty containers, as Kenya’s main regional gateway resumes full operations following a two-year Covid-19 lull.

The port has been receiving an increased number of empty boxes after shipping lines began a mopping up exercise of containers that lay in different yards across the region.

One solution, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) proposes, was bringing in two container handler equipment from the Nairobi Inland Container Depot to “be reassembled and recommissioned to enhance container stacking at the port yards,’’ said a KPA official.

The increased activity in Mombasa is also partly due to relocation of clearing services from Nairobi and Naivasha, in a new directive by President William Ruto.

Clearing and forwarding agents, however, raised concerns over revenue leakages from container storage problems.

The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) says Kenya loses more than $1.4 billion annually to shipping lines as container depot fee, yet the containers are no longer stored in Container Freight Stations.


“We have petitioned the government to review the $70 charges per container which we have been paying since 2018 for cargo destined for Nairobi and other areas in East Africa.

“With about 2.1 million containers passing through the port annually, we lose billions to shipping lines and if not checked, we shall continue incurring such levies which are unaccounted for,” said Kifwa chairman Roy Mwanthi.

A shortage of containers caused sea freight charges to double in the past two years as players in the logistic sector urged ports in East Africa to increase empty container limitations at their facilities to allow more to be shipped back.