The Port of Mombasa this week received the largest ever vessel christened ‘MV Ever Diamond’ made possible by the recent port expansion projects spearheaded by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
The port has started reaping benefits of the dredging of its channels and turning basin by accommodating bigger container vessels.
Maritime experts contend that the call by this ship is a clear indicator of the benefits to be realised as a result of port expansion activities and deployment of state of the art container handling facilities.
They note it marks a major step by the government to enhance and sustain Mombasa as a competitive hub port status in the region.
MV ‘Ever Diamond’ has become the largest ever container ship to dock at the premier port which for years has been taking measures to prepare to receive the world’s biggest ships.
The port is the gateway to East and Central Africa and is one of the busiest ports along the East African coastline and has recently been attracting jumbo-sized container ships.
It provides direct connectivity to over 80 ports worldwide and is linked to a vast hinterland comprising Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Northern Tanzania, Southern Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia by road.
The Evergreen Shipping Line vessel has a length overall of 295m, a breadth of 32 m, a dead weight of 55515 tonnes and a gross tonnage of 52090.
Maritime experts contend the port is now edging closer towards attaining 48 hours turnaround time for bigger vessels and enhancing its competitiveness following consistent record productivity performances.
In this voyage the largest sea cargo vessel loaded a record 9000 full export containers, 1500 empties and discharged 1919 import containers.
The massive ship sailing under the flag of Panama which has made its inaugural call this week recorded 1523 moves within an eight-hour shift.
The new record by MV Ever Diamond comes barely a month after another vessel MSC Maxine hit a record 1450 moves within an eight-hour shift.
The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) acting Managing Director, Dr. Daniel Manduku who led a welcome party described the visit of ‘MV Ever Diamond ‘as a historic moment that is set to raise the port’s profile as a regional transportation and logistics hub.
He contends the new record is a testament to ‘our continued zeal to modernising port operations so as to increase port efficiency and serve the customers much better’.
The KPA MD said following the successful dredging of the Kilindini channel, the port is ready to accommodate larger vessels and handle large volumes of containerised cargo.
“We are continuously improving efficiency of port operations as maritime traffic grows in a bid to reduce the cost of doing business at the port,’ he observed.
Dr. Manduku said the records are inching towards 200 moves per hour which is associated with top global ports, adding that huge dredging operations made the port deep enough to accommodate large cargo ships which are becoming standard in the shipping industry.
Gross moves per hour is a maritime productivity term that defines the total container movement on loading, offloading and repositioning divided by the number of hours for which the vessel is docked at berth.
“We are now targeting to dispatch the big vessels within 48 hours of arrival which means we are now setting a service time of 48 hours and once we achieve this target, it will be easier to sustain and manage the fixed berthing windows for all the vessels calling at the container terminal,’ noted Dr. Manduku.
He went on ‘this underscores our commitment to increasing port efficiency which will go a long way in ensuring that we serve our clients better,’ further noting that expansion programmes are bearing fruit and the port is headed for better times.
The Gulf Badr Group shipping agency official, Amir Abdelsalam expressed delight on the historic performance saying it speaks volumes of how maritime transporters view the port of Mombasa.
“We are very pleased with the reception we have received and it is very obvious we are going to have a bright future here in Kenya,” he said.
He pointed out that the port being able to accommodate ships the size of ‘MV Ever Diamond’ bodes well for Mombasa as a popular port of call in the region.
He said the ship left Far East ports of China, Singapore and Sri Lanka and thanked KPA for offering global shipping services as maritime traffic grows by leaps and bounds.
Abdelsalam told the press the arrival of the new vessel is a reflection of the long term commitment to facilitate seaborne trade and development of the country through global trade.
By Hussein Abdullahi