Mombasa, Dar cargo volumes keep rising with competition

Monday January 22 2024

Containers at the port of Mombasa, Kenya. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

By The EastAfrican

Cargo volumes at Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports have grown amid intensified competition, with Mombasa touting its efficiency while Dar is offering what it describes as favorable terms.

Tanzania this week announced the completion of the $420 million Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project (DMGP) and plans to expand its maritime infrastructure as it opened storage for cargo destined to four East African Community (EAC) states.

Kenya charges up to $1,200 more per 40-feet container passing through the port of Mombasa.

But the attractive package offered by the Dar port has seen it grapple with efficiency challenges, prompting the management to mull diverting cargo to the Bagamoyo Port.

Read: Mombasa Port cargo shipments rise amid Dar insufficiency

Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) Director-General Plasduce Mbossa said they planned the construction of six new berths in Dar and Bagamoyo through public-private partnership.


Dar es Salaam Port’s current performance is low compared with Mombasa, Beira and Durban, forcing major shippers to skip it due to higher anchorage costs.

Average waiting period for a ship to offload cargo cargo is five days in Dar es Salaam, compared with 1.25 days in Mombasa and 1.6 days in Durban.

Mr Mbossa said Dar was modernising its equipment to reduce congestion.

Read: Dar port topples Mombasa with $357m upgrade

But that is not the only problem Tanzania is facing. Poor overland transport infrastructure, mostly the roads and railway from the Dar port has greatly affected performance.

Railways carry only three percent of cargo handled at the Dar es Salaam port, Mr Mbossa said.

TPA is searching for a contractor for two berths at the Bagamoyo for handling large containerised cargo ships carrying between 12,000 and 25,000 containers.


Four berths will be constructed at the Dar es Salaam Port, in addition to the current 12 berths.

“A private investor will also increase the depth of berths 8-11 to increase port capacity,” Mr Mbossa said, adding that only 12 vessels or less can dock at a time.

“This creates challenges, especially during the high season between September and February,” he said.

Dar es Salaam port can only handle ships with a maximum capacity of 8,000 containers.

Ships offloading crude oil pipes and other equipment for the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) have recently increased the number of cargo vessels at the port.

Read: Eacop pipes received at Tanzania port ready for laying

Port Director Mrisho Mrisho said the port intends to handle 24 million tonnes of cargo in 2023/2024 fiscal year after completion of the DMGP.

He downplayed reports that the Dar es Salaam port was overwhelmed by cargo to the extent that ships now opt to use neighbouring ports.

TPA is implementing an Industrial Logistics Park project to decongest and facilitate speedy offloading of cargo at the port.

TPA has also developed a dry port at Kwala in Coast Region.

In Kenya, Capt William Ruto, Kenya Ports Authority managing director, announced measures to enhance the Mombasa port’s capacity. He announced the dredging of the port channel to accommodate bigger vessels.

Mr Ruto also said the authority was working with other stakeholders to provide end-to-end logistics services for transit market customers to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of doing business.

By Anthony Kitimo and Apolinari Tairo