Mombasa port performance indicators have in some instances fallen short of the targets set out by the Mombasa Port and Northern Corridor Community Charter, the latest Transport Observatory Report of 2020 indicates.
The Charter established a target of 0.3 days waiting time before a ship is allocated a berth. Over the last three years, this target’s performance has fallen short of the set target. For last year, the poor performance could be partly attributed to delays encountered by port players to meet the COVID-19 health protocols. In the year 2020, about 50% of the vessels spent time not exceeding 0.4 days cumulatively.
A slight resurgence in the Chinese and global economy late in the year led to increased vessel traffic, subsequent queuing and poor ship waiting time. Scarce labour on hand and lengthy vessel clearance procedures introduced before working to curb the spread of the virus led to a decline in Ship turnaround time.
“However, it is worth noting that KPA has made tremendous initiatives at the Port of Mombasa over the years, including the implementation of a fixed Berthing Window to allow shipping lines to plan their time, improved crane productivity and enough terminal capacity,” the report dated June this year reads in part.
It also noted that there has been increased investment in offshore and offshore equipment, which includes the acquisition of modern tugboats and pilot boats that boost berthing operations.
The dwell time in the Port of Mombasa improved significantly from 100 hours in 2018 to 88 hours in 2019. This time worsened to 106 hours in 2020, which could be linked to the longer ship turnaround time in the same year. Dwell time is the measure of the time elapsed from the time the cargo arrives in the port to the time the goods leave the port premises after all permits and clearances have been obtained.
The performance of this indicator was short of the Charter set target of 78 hours. The poor performance could be attributable to the longer time to complete cargo clearance formalities and temporary storage time.
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) increased the free storage period since 18th of May 2020 in line with continuous and deliberate efforts of cushioning customers on effects of the COVID-19, which has impacted on the whole transport logistics chain.
“Stringent measures introduced to protect the spread, such as curfew and social-distancing and a rising number of infections, directly impacted labour availability at the Port,” the report noted.
Also, the challenges of clearing transit cargo due to changes instituted by transit countries as a result of the pandemic affected the fluidity of cargo getting out of the Port. Equipment lacked operators at times, leading to container transfer delays leading to higher Dwell time within the Port of Mombasa.
Majority of containers (over 60%) were evacuated within 4 days. Cumulatively over, 80% of containers recorded dwell time of 4 to 10 days to leave the port premises after all permits and clearances have been obtained. The downward trend was attributable to improved cargo clearance procedures, increased storage tariffs, and improvement in inland transportation, which allowed cargo to move more easily through and out of the port.
Time taken by Customs to pass an entry lodged by a clearing agent improved in the period under review. The Charter established a baseline of 2.3 hours in December 2018 as the average time taken at the Document Processing Center (DPC) by December 2020.
DPC time has been improving over the years. The entries lodged and cleared improved from 2.4 hours in 2018 to 2.2 hours in 2019 and further to 1.6 hours in 2020. Delay in the full implementation of the Integrated Customs Management System (iCMS) has delayed the realization of instant passing of entries based automate on risk profiling.
The Charter targeted 64 hours as the average time taken at one-stop center clearance by December 2020. One-Stop Centre Clearance Time is measured as the average time between registration, passing, and issuance of release order on a customs entry. Performance over the last two years recorded positive achievement within the set target of 64 hours.
Some of the commitments aimed at improving performance for this target include joint verification and inspection and ensuring 24-hour operations.
“However, there is a need to reconcile the 5 days key performance duration for local inspection under the Kenya National Bureau of Standards and Kenya Revenue Authority’s service level agreement of 36 hours on release cargo,” the report said.
The number of ships that called at the Port of Mombasa decreased marginally from 530 in 2019 to 526 in 2020. Larger vessels have been docking at the seaport of Mombasa. Statistics indicate that 25% of vessels recorded an average turnaround time of 53 hours in 2020; cumulatively, 50% of vessels recorded an average turnaround time of 80 hour.
The ship turn-around time is an accumulation of the two critical times, ship service time at berth and waiting time. The Charter aims to attain the target for ship turnaround time of 81 hours by December 2020, 75 hours by December 2022 and 67 hours by December 2024.
Globally, the ultimate goal is to attain the 24 hours (1 day) ship turnaround benchmark time. Figure 9 presents a five-year annual performance for ship turnaround at the Port of Mombasa. The average turnaround time performance falls short of the 81 hours’ target. This could be partly attributed to delays encountered by transporters to meet the COVID-19 health protocols.
Time taken after the Customs have issued the transporter with a release order to actual exit from the Port for 2016 to 2020 improved over the years from 51 hours in 2016 to 42 hours in 2019. However, in 2020 performance worsened slightly to 46 hours against the set target of 36 hours occasioned by the delays encountered by transporters to meet the COVID-19 health protocols.
Some of the commitments aimed at improving performance for this target include automating gate clearance procedures and ensuring 24-hour operations which have been fully implemented.
In addition, there have been significant improvements in road infrastructure around the seaport and the corridor at large and the implementation of Standard Gauge Rail, which are bearing the desired outcomes to improve this indicator.
Some of the commitments aimed at improving performance for this target include automating gate clearance procedures and ensuring 24-hour operations. Transporters/Private Sector should resolve the concerns around non-finalized documentation by clearing agents and timely receiving cargo pick up notification which leads to delay or failure by cargo owners to pick their cargo after customs released cargo.