In response to increased container traffic at the Port of Mombasa, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has commissioned 12 ultra-modern Rubber Tyred Gantries (RTG) to improve capacity and lower operating costs. KPA has been working on several projects with the aim of expanding the Mombasa Port capacity for handling larger vessels and cargo. Currently, the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa is Kenya’s main port and the biggest in East Africa.
Other East African countries including Ethiopia, Somalia rely on it for imports and exports. The port handles a variety of things including tea and coffee exports and fuel and consumer imports.
The Port has been experiencing a steady increase in container volumes due to the growing trade within the East African region. Over the years, container volumes have gone up from 1,278 TUEs in 1975 to 1 million TUEs in 2014. Total cargo has increased by 11.5 percent (22.3 million tons) in 2013 to 24.9 million in 2014. Moreover, while the number of exports and imports has increased by 8.5 percent and 12.8 percent respectively, the number of ships has increased from 1768 in 2013 to 1832 in 2014. As a result, this has led to congestion of the port hence the expansion and modernization projects by KPA.
There are numerous projects underway on the Mombasa Port to ensure that the port will be able to effectively and efficiently handle increasing cargo and vessels. The biggest project is the Mombasa Port KES $366 million terminal expansion that will see an increase of the port’s capacity to 2.1 million TUEs by 2020. Thus far, the first terminal expansion is expected to be completed by March 2016 and will add an additional 450,000 TEUs capacity and 750,000 TEUs by 2017 and 2020. Other projects include; deepening channels, constructing access roads and railway lines, berth capacity expansion among others. These projects have attracted investment and interest from companies all over the world, such as APM Terminals, CMA CGM, PSA, Dalian Ports Co, Terminal Investment Ltd, China Merchants Holding and more. The installation of the 12 new gantry cranes is yet another piece towards the goal of transforming Kenya into regional sea transport hub as well as realizing Vision2030.
The 12 RTGs are in tandem with KPA’s modernization and equipment acquirement programme and will potentially lead to improved port performance. In addition, besides modernization, KPA acquired the RTGs due to the overreliance and over-utilization of the existing yard equipment. The gantry cranes are manufactured by Cargotec O in Finland and have a life span of 20 years. The cranes will improve efficiency in operations because they are multipurpose and come with modern technology to better handle cargo. For example, they have the ability to track container stacking and have automatic wheel steering among other operational features. Moreover, because they can use electrical power besides diesel engine, they will radically lower cost operation because of their limited fuel consumption. The cranes are actually expected to consume half of the fuel that was consumed by the old cranes; the older cranes used about 8,000 to 10,000 litres of fuel per month and the newer cranes will use around 4,000 litres.