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Agency urged to fast track bulk grain cargo handlers

By Mercy Mwai
Tuesday, December 8th, 2020
Cargo being offloaded from a ship at the Port of Mombasa. Photo/PD/File
In summary
    • Parliamentary committee raised concern that the Port of Mombasa has limited berths for handling specialised cargo including dry bulk grain.
    • Committee also wants the government  to provide critical infrastructure such as wide berths and state-of-the-art vessel to promote efficiency in grain bulk handling in the country.

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

A parliamentary committee has called on Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to fast track the authorisation of design, development and commissioning of the other Grain Handlers to enhance efficacy in the grain handling business by 2022.

 Consequently, the legislators also want the process of appointing a new operator for the grain bulk handling services conducted  in a fair, open and transparent manner that will adhere to the Public Procurement and Asset disposal Act 2015 to ensure non-discrimination and accountability.

 The National Assembly Finance and National Planning Committee raised concern that the Port of Mombasa has limited berths for handling specialised cargo, including dry bulk grain discharge because of congestion at the port, especially during emergency, surge in importation and humanitarian crisis.

 Currently, KPA has one licensed grain bulk handler; the Grain Bulk Handlers Limited (GBHL) operating at berths 3 and 4 at the Port of Mombasa with over 14.5 million tonnes of cargo handled and 513 ships having docked at the port of  between 2015 and 2020.

 “Transportation of bulk commodities has undergone a radical change due to the tremendous increase in size and carrying capacity of vessels.

This enormous increase in the volume of cargo has emphasised the need for faster and more efficient handling and storage operations, to exploit economies of scale.

The scope of the global materials handling industry varied from the supply of single pieces of mobile equipment to dedicate turnkey terminals handling millions of tones as major bulk commodities annually,” the report.

 Committee chaired by Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, has also opined that the government ought  to provide critical infrastructure such as wide berths and state-of-the-art vessel to continually expand and gain leverage in technology while maximising the return on investment in order to promote efficiency in grain bulk handling in the country. 

Further, committee wants KPA to continue investing through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework in the expansion of the port facility to accommodate more berths to meet the growing demand within the region.

 “ Under the KPA master plan of 2018 to 2047, the authority should pursue alternative locations to discharge grain vessels particularly at the Dongo Kundu Specialized Economic Zone (SEZ), the upcoming Lamu and Kisumu ports with consideration on space and business model applicable under the PPP’s framework,” adds the  report.

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