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Suez Canal blockage to have insignificant impact on Mombasa port

Friday June 04 2021
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Mombasa Port. Kenya Ports Authority, which manages Mombasa Port, has accelerated infrastructure development and modernisation of equipment. PHOTO | COURTESY | KPA

By The EastAfrican

Kenya has allayed fears of pronounced negative impact on operations at the Port of Mombasa as an aftermath of the Suez Canal crisis, with only exports mainly refrigerated avocados to Europe and America, expected to experience slight delays.

The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Acting Managing Director Rashid Salim said the blockage by a Japanese ship Ever Given on both sides of the canal was cleared on time and the port management does not foresee much of an impact, given that imports are mainly from Asia.

“With cargo from Europe and Americans accounting for less than 35 per cent of imports in Mombasa, we will experience very minimal impact from the Suez Canal blockage in terms of delayed container vessels. The blockade should be able to affect cargo from Europe and the Americas that are normally transshipped from the Gulf ports," Mr Salim said on Wednesday.

Mr Rashid said avocadoes, which is currently the main export commodity to Europe, is expected to experience delays and the worst-case scenario for the blockage impact would on the operations and not cargo delivery.

Earlier, the world's second-largest shipping line MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company in its statement said they expect some missing sailing in the future but denied claims that it has suspended booking worldwide due to Suez closure.

"Due to the Suez Canal blockage, the company might be facing some missed sailings in the future.  MSC would "adapt the volume of bookings" they can accept "according to the reduced capacity available. We would like to clarify that MSC had not stopped bookings worldwide due to the Suez closure," MSC said in a statement.

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Mr Salim said major shipping lines plying East African trade routes had indicated that the negative impact would be a slight delay for their 1st carrier transshipment vessels.

“There was only one vessel that had left the Port of Mombasa to Europe, which by the time of the incident had already cleared the Suez Canal,” he said.

General Manager Operations and Harbour Master Capt. William Ruto added that on the likelihood of any delays on grain vessels and possible bunching up of ship arrivals, the port was prepared, with reviewed operational strategies in place.

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