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Ships return to Kenya’s Mombasa after election fears
Container traffic has returned to east Africa’s gateway port of Mombasa after ships had re-routed to Tanzania for fear of election violence in Kenya late last month, its managing director said.Gichiri Ndua said that following a peaceful election as well as due to expansion plans, cargo traffic would grow by 5 percent this year.
He said ships had been docking at Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam for fear of the losses they incurred during the violence that erupted after a disputed presidential election in 2007 when shipping came to a standstill and goods were looted.
“Several ships that were destined to the port of Dar es Salaam have instead called at the port of Mombasa because our regional clients have restored their trust in us , and more are coming,” Ndua told Reuters.
Mombasa handles imports such as fuel and consumer goods for Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia and exports of tea and coffee from the region.
Ndua said the quick return to normalcy had left hope for further increase in traffic.
“We would have expected to hit the 23 million tonne mark this year, were it not for the election anxiety which slowed down business,” Ndua said.
“There was a decline in the first quarter of this year with 3.5 million tonnes being handled between January and March, compared to 3.8 million tonnes in the same period last year. That will affect our total annual performance this year, but we will still do well because we recovered from the election hangover fast enough,” he added.
The port handled 21.92 million tonnes of cargo in the 12 months to the end of December 2012, up from 19.95 million tonnes handled during the same period in 2011, and had expected to increase this by 10 percent in 2013.
The election violence five years ago paralysed cargo transport, and some landlocked countries in the region found themselves short on fuel and other key provisions.
Kenya’s port has announced plans to increase cargo-handling tariffs by 10 percent to match a rise in container traffic.
Kenya is also building a $300 million second container terminal at the Mombasa port to be completed by 2015, which will handle increased trade driven by a sharp growth in construction, vast infrastructure development and an emerging middle class.
The increase in traffic will be boosted by a new berth at the port, completed in March and ready for use, to handle bigger vessels. (Reuters)
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