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 History of The Port Of Mombasa


‚ÄčThe Port of Mombasa is the key entry and exit point for cargo belonging to a vast hinterland that include Kenya, Uganda Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia. The port of Mombasa dates back to 18th century when the Portuguese and the Arabs came to the East African Indian ocean shore for spice and slave trade.

  1. Historical Timeline


    The history of The Port of Mombasa dates back many centuries from the existence of the Old Port. The Port served dhows from India, Arabian Gulf and Far East. It is located near Fort Jesus at Mombasa Old Town. ​In 1890, Kenya and Uganda became a British Protectorate under the Imperial British East Africa (IBEA). The colonial government saw a need to create infrastructure inland to open up the area for effective administration, hence the construction of the Kenya- Uganda Railway (1895-1902). Coupled with increased activities at the Port there was need for a more spacious and convenient place to meet the demand and for construction of a rail network. Therefore the Port of Mombasa was relocated to the Kilindini Harbor West of Mombasa Island. The development of the present Port of Mombasa commenced in 1896 when the first Jetty, used for discharging materials for the construction of the railway line was built at Kilindini.

  2. North Lighter Wharf


    ​In 1907 a wharf, the North Lighter Wharf was built with quay length of 168 meters long to handle rail-borne goods and other imports and exports. The north lighter quay had four lighter handling points. Later in 1954 a South lighter wharf built with 8 stub-head jetties to keep up with expansion rate.

  3. Berth No. 9


    ​In 1913, berth no 9 was constructed to handle then Kenya's leading mineral export (Soda ash).

  4. Berth Nos. 1 and 2


    Berth nos. 1 and 2 were completed in 1926, supported by double storied sheds.

  5. Berth Nos. 3 and 4


    ​In 1929, berth nos. 3 and 4 were completed and were supported by ordinary transit sheds.

  6. Berth Nos. 3,4, 5 and the Shimanzi Oil Terminal (SOT)

    1929 - 1931

    In 1929, berth nos. 3 and 4 were completed and were supported by ordinary transit sheds. In 1931, no. 5 and the Shimanzi Oil Terminal (SOT) were completed. The SOT was to handle refined oil.

  7. ​Berth Nos. 7 and 8

    1942 - 1944

    Berth no 7 and 8 were constructed between 1942 and 1944 to cope with the sudden increase in shipping and traffic as a result of British wartime naval requirements in the Indian Ocean, during the Second World War.

  8. Berth No. 9

    1955 - 1958

    In 1955 berth no. 9 was completed as deep water berth, followed by berth no 10 in 1958.

  9. Berth Nos. 11 and 12

    1961 - 1967

    ​As the level of cargo and ship traffic continued to rise berth nos. 11 and 12 were completed in 1961. Kipevu Oil Terminal was built in 1962/ 63 to serve the east African Oil Refinery while berth 13 and 14 were later completed in 1967.

  10. Mbaraki Wharf, Berth Nos. 16, 17 and 18

    1970 - 1980

    1970 saw Mbaraki wharf built to handle specialized dry bulk cargo. This includes cement and fluorspar, clinker among other bulk cargoes. The Wharf comprised of two berths of 312 meters long. Containerization concept started in Greece in the mid1950s and spread like bushfire, in the global maritime transport due to convenience and security advantages containers come with. The Port of Mombasa handled its first container in 1975, and the experience of handling the few containers heralded the emergence of containers in the maritime sector in the region prompting the construction of berths nos. 16 and 17 and later in 1980 berth no 18 was completed to facilitate container cargo handling. This became the Mombasa Container Terminal with its initial capacity of 250,000TEUs per year.

  11. Inland Container Depot(ICDs)

    1980 - 2000

    As cargo volumes continued to grow at Mombasa Port it became apparent that there was high usage of road haulage compared to train for up-country bound cargo and beyond the borders. This is because the railway line was old and slower. To promote the usage of rail and to bring cargo closer to customers, the Authority introduced the Inland Container Depot(ICDs) concept by building ICDS in Nairobi and Kisumu, which were linked to the Port by a Railway line (Railtainer service).The concept was also to reduce cargo congestion at the Port. Consequently, in 1984, inland container depot (ICD) at Embakasi in Nairobi was built and became operational while Kisumu inland container depot became operational in 1994, together with Eldoret ICD. Cargo moves ex-hook from the Port of Mombasa on a through Bill of Lading onto a waiting rail wagon directly to the ICD. At the ICDs all cargo clearance procedures are done and the owner can make payments and collect their cargo. Exports are also consolidated and railed to Mombasa for loading onto ships.

  12. Port Channel Dredging

    2011 - 2016

    In 2011 the Port channel was dredged to minus 15 meters and its turning basin widened to 300 meters. Alongside berths are now 12 meters deep. In the same year, a new berth no. 19 was built and completed in 2013. The berth is 240meters long and 13.5 meters deep capable of handling panama vessels. This addition effectively makes Mombasa Container Terminal to have a total quay length of 840meters. In the same year, the construction of a second container terminal commenced in phases. Phase 1 was completed in February2016 and started operating in April 2016, with a quay of 350 meters long berth and draft of 15 meters, and a side berth of 210 meters long with a draft of 12meters. The two berths have a capacity of 550,000TEUs per year. The second and third phase are expected to be completed in 2020 in time to facilitate Kenya's Vision 2030.