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Kenya urged to fix delays at the port of Mombasa

03 June 2013, 18:14

Nairobi - World Bank on Sunday called on Kenya to urgently deal with congestion and delay problems at the Port of Mombasa which serves regional countries.

World Bank Vice President for Africa Makhtar Diop warned that the East African nation risked losing a lot of money in trade if it does not fix such challenges to allow free flow of goods and services across the region.

"Diop asked the government to move fast and sort out the mess at the port if it wanted to continue reaping profits," said a statement issued in Nairobi on Sunday after a meeting with between the World Bank VP for Africa and Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto in Japan.

The Mombasa-based port is the best equipped on the East African coast, the second largest port in terms of tonnage and containers handled after Durban of South Africa.

The Port of Mombasa is the gateway to East and Central Africa, and is one of the busiest Ports along the East African coastline. It serves the hinterland markets of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Northern Tanzania, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia.

The regional port said plans are also at an advanced stage for the development of a free port on 3,000 acres area through a public-private partnership arrangement.

Tenders for Expression of interest (EOI) for consultancy services for the feasibility study have been advertised and evaluated. The design of the road by-pass to link the project area and Mombasa-Lunga Lunga Road is ready.

The multi-billion project could turn Mombasa into a commercial hub similar to Dubai and encourage local and foreign direct investment, promote trade, and support value addition activities.

Cargo passing through the port of Mombasa has grown significantly from 9.13 million tonnes in 2000 to 19.93 million tonnes last year, an increase of 7.4 percent per annum.

During the meeting Diop said neighboring countries are currently relying on the port for delivery of goods and that Kenya should deal with delay problems.

"However, the bank promised to assist Kenya overcome the inefficiency," said the statement.

Speaking during the meeting, Ruto said the government is aware of the congestion and delays challenges and expressed commitment to resolving the problems of congestion and delays at the port.

Ruto said the East African nation would build a railway line that will ensure that cargo is easily transported to their respective destinations as part of solutions to addressing the congestion and delays challenges.

"We want a container terminal in Nairobi and construct a completely new railway line as part of the measures to make the port viable," he said. The bank promised to conduct a feasibility study on Mombasa-Nairobi railway.

The bad state of the rail line and the locomotive wheels have been the cause of the numerous derailments between Mombasa and Nairobi sections that made Rift Valley Railway unpopular with transporters because of the delays.

Railways officials said the company will also undertake massive repairs of culverts between Jinja and Tororo in Uganda that cannot handle weightier locomotives.

Currently, wagons have to be divided when they reach Jinja in Uganda to reduce their weight so that the locomotive can pass.

The repairs will allow the company to increase the tonnage it can transport between the two towns from the current 1,000 tonnes to 1,300 tonnes and eventually 2,000 tonnes without dividing the wagons.

- Xinhua

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