As coronavirus continues wreaking havoc, across the world claiming thousands of lives, its ripple effects have drastically caught up with the manufacturing industry and overseas trade. China has been the main source of Manufactured goods for the East African region.
But this is expected to reduce in the coming few weeks, because according to the Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA), there will also be an increase of vessels’ docking time at the port as authorities around the world, including the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), screen all crew members for the virus and inspect all vessels entering their ports. This implies that the cargo volume at the Mombasa port will drop, as Kenya is still weighing on the impact of the outbreak in China. Small-scale importers have been greatly affected as they are being denied visas to travel to China for business.
“Shipping is a global business and with many ships doing transshipment, they are avoiding China while some are taking more time to screen and inspect crew and vessels, which will affect imports. We have reports of small-scale importers who go to China for the business being denied visas, with Uganda whose main transit port is Mombasa recording the highest number. This will ultimately affect the number of consolidated imported cargo that accounts for a substantive percentage of throughput,” said Lagat director of EA shipper council.
The Ports Authority has been thorough in ensuring all imported cargo and vessel crew members entering the port are disease-free by screening and inspecting them. Global trade associations of airlines International Air Transport Association (IATA) offered to help traders transport their goods via air, but with a majority of nations suspending air travels and the cost of air being twice as much, small scale importers are in limbo.