Kenya’s only deep water port and East Africa’s main trade gateway handled a total 19.06 million tonnes in 2009, up from 16.41 million in the previous year, the port operator said in a report.
The container terminal handled 618 816 twenty foot equivalent container units (TEU) in 2009, up slightly from 615 733 in 2008 although it was designed for 250 000 TEU.
Over a quarter of the total throughput, or 4.98 million tonnes, was transit cargo.
Ugandan goods accounted for just 80 %.
“These figures highlight the growing use of the port by the region and show signs of an improvement in regional economic performance,” the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) said in its 2010-2011 handbook.
“KPA is forecasting continued growth for 2010 and 2011, albeit at a slower pace owing to the current economic conditions.”
More than 90 % of the transit cargo is moved by trucks but Kenya and Uganda are planning to lay a 1 290-kilometre standard gauge track to supplement an existing metre gauge railway between Mombasa and Kampala.
KPA said Chinese and Korean firms had expressed interest in constructing the wider track.
Turnaround time improved to three days from five days in 2008 after the port adopted 24-hour work schedules and opened new container freight stations.
KPA said work on a second terminal with a 1.2 million TEU capacity began in 2009 and there were plans to convert existing berths into a third terminal.
The second terminal, whose first phase should be operational in 2013, will cost an estimated $235 million and will be financed by a Japan International Co-operation Agency loan.
“KPA has already decided that the second terminal should be operated by a concessionaire in some form of competition with the authority’s own container handling facility,” KPA said.
KPA also hopes to dredge the port to a deeper 15 metres from 13 metres to enable bigger ships to call at the port.
The Mombasa port also serves Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, south Sudan, eastern DRC and Somalia.
Aid agencies also use it for food aid. It handled 1.0 million tonnes of aid cargo in 2009, nearly double the amount of food discharged in 2007, KPA said. Food destined for Somalia took nearly 40 %.
Zambia, Ethiopia and Malawi were considering using the Mombasa port as a gateway for some overseas markets.