The Covid-19 pandemic had a minimal impact on the cargo throughput at the Mombasa port, according to data from the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
Industry figures from the KPA indicate that cargo that passed through the port declined marginally by 1.1 percent to stand at 34.06 million tonnes in 2020 when compared with 34.44 million tonnes a year earlier.
KPA acting managing director Rashid Salim said the slight decline was due to the effects of the coronavirus that disrupted business across the globe.
"The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy is reflected in the 2020 port performance, reporting 34.06 million tonnes, a decline of one percent in total throughput when compared with 34.44 million tonnes recorded in 2019. This was also 2.8 percent less than the forecasted target," he said.
Mr Salim said container traffic recorded 1,359,579 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in the review period, which was a four percent decline compared with 1,416,654 TEUs handled in 2019.
Transshipment traffic too was affected, registering negative 16.9 percent and negative 10.9 percent against the 2019 performance and forecast target, respectively.
However, transit traffic posted a positive performance in total throughput recording 10.17 million tonnes against 9.95 million tonnes in 2019, reflecting a 2.2 percent growth and surpassing the target by one percent.
Between October-December 2020/21, the port realised improved performance, a sign of recovery occasioned by the slow opening of the economy.
"The total throughput recovered, surpassing the forecasted target by 2.8 percent and 1.2 percent against 2019/20 performance. The favourable performance was mainly supported by improved handling of liquid bulk and conventional cargo," said Mr Rashid.
Container traffic recorded negative 2.5 percent against the target and negative 0.9 percent against 2019/20 performance. On the other hand, transshipment traffic registered 10.2 percent against the target though a variance of negative 12.8 percent was recorded compared with the same quarter in 2019/20.
Mr Salim said the performance is steadily bouncing back from last year as witnessed from the port performance statistics.
"For instance, between January and March this year, the port throughput recorded 9.54 million tonnes, an increase of 10.7 percent compared to 8.62 million tonnes in the corresponding period last year, "he said.
Before the onset of the Covid-19, the port was doing well, surpassing most of the performance targets that it usually sets for itself. The streak of good performance was slowed down by the virus but KPA is optimistic that things are getting back to normal, and with all factors remaining constant, the performance will keep on rising.