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Maandamano hurts business at Mombasa port as traders shift to Dar

The Port of Mombasa is gradually losing business to its Dar es Salaam rival amid political unrest in Kenya.

Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA), Chief Executive Gilbert Langat, who also chairs the Mombasa Port and Northern Corridor Community Charter, told Business Daily traders in Uganda and Rwanda are gradually increasing volumes of cargo passing through Dar es Salaam.

Langat attributed the shift in business routing to the political situation in Kenya occasioned by the recent anti-government demonstrations.

Azimio leader Raila Odinga recently led countrywide demonstrations in protest over what he termed the high cost of living and while demanding electoral reforms.

The port of Mombasa is the starting point of the Northern Corridor which extends to Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, DR Congo and Ethiopia.

The Dar Port also handles goods headed to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Zambia and Malawi.

Lang’at further indicated Tanzania is using the political unrest in Kenya to market its Port in Dar as the best option in handling exports and imports.

“Whenever there are demonstrations, there’s a negative story that goes out there which is used by our competitors that Kenya is not stable and there will be delays due to skirmishes and riots even if it is just a section of the country.”

“Currently, there is competition between northern and central corridors. If the protests are happening in Nairobi and Kisumu because all the cargo to the hinterland passes there, then basically you have closed the region that serves the hinterland,” said Mr. Langat earlier.

Despite the challenges, the Port of Mombasa has maintained its position as the largest seaport in East Africa.

However, according to the data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the volume of cargo handled by Mombasa port in Kenya has dropped for the first time in five years.

Total cargo throughput at the port shrunk to 33.74 million metric tonnes last year from 34.76 million tonnes the year before.

It comes at a time the Kenya Ports Authority is working hard to reclaim the Rwanda market from Tanzania

Kenya has built another port in Lamu that is expected to exclusively handle goods to landlocked Ethiopia and South Sudan.

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