Dozen ships steer clear of Port of Mombasa as Coronavirus takes hold, Kenyans to brace for tough times ahead

Port of Mombasa.
  • Apart from cancellation of the ships, the fate of 102 others remain unknown.
  • Kenya Ports Authority managing director Daniel Manduku said that the situation was the “the worst ever” for the port.
  • Last year, The port handled 1.425 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (teus) representing a 7.3% growth over the previous year.

As the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19) infection takes hold of the world, a dozen ships destined for Mombasa have now steered clear of the port while the fate of 102 others remain unknown.

Apart from cancellation of the ships, a number of vessels which made call at the port last month reported blank arrivals affecting cargo numbers at the port, Kenya Ports Authority managing director Daniel Manduku disclosed adding that the situation was the “the worst ever” for the port.

“We have so far seen our business negatively disrupted following the cancellation of 37 ships scheduled to make call in March while fate of 104 others remain uncertain,” he said.

Thousands of businesses are now staring at shortage of supplies and the supply crunch is likely to lead to higher cost of goods for Kenyans, who are already starting to feel the economic pinch due to measures taken to limit the spread of the disease locally.

Goods such as electronics, industrial raw materials and machinery, household items and bulk food imports make the bulk of Kenya’s imports all which come in through the port of Mombasa.

Last year, The port handled 1.425 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (teus) representing a 7.3% growth over the previous year anchored by construction of the second Container Terminal, improved handling services and faster transfer of cargo on the standard gauge railway to Nairobi.

Since its outbreak in China three months ago, essential supplies for East African businesses, especially small and medium enterprises have been cut off, leaving them fighting to stay afloat.

Early this month, local retailers, including Naivas and Tuskys, warned that the prices of consumer goods such as clothing, furniture, mobile phones, TVs and fridges will rise before the end of the month due to the supply chain disruption.

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance, last week, released a report which showed that 61% of businesses have felt the impact of the Covid-19 on their operations, with many of them scaling down operation or headed for closure, a doom for the economy.

The local aviation industry hasn’t been spared either and is reeling from effects of Covid-19 which has seen many airlines cancel and suspend flights all together incurring billions of losses.

Local budget airline, Jambojet, has now suspended its services to Kigali, Rwanda and Entebbe, Uganda with immediate effect following dwindling number of airline passengers especially on the international routes as more and more people cut down on travel.

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