South Sudan traders are movinga away from Kenya’s Mombasa port to Djibouti route they consider more favourable.
“Djibouti is near to South Sudan compared to Mombasa port in Kenya and the government of Djibouti is willing to strengthen trade ties with South Sudan and Ethiopia,” said Lado Lukak Legge the deputy chairperson for Chamber of Commerce in South Sudan.
South Sudan is second after Uganda in the use of Mombasa port, accounting for 9.9% of transit volumes. Uganda accounts for 83% of all throughput cargo followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda at 7.2%, 3.2% and 2.4%, respectively.
The shift, if successful, will also hit the newly established dry ports in Naivasha and Nairobi, where cargo destined for South Sudan were supposed to be cleared at the Inland Container Depot (ICD).
Just recently, Kenya and South Sudan agreed to clear cargo destined to Juba in Nairobi starting this month.
In 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that Kenya would allocate South Sudan 10 acres of land for construction of a dry port at the Naivasha special economic zone. The land, which acted as an incentive to have Juba use Kenya as a transit route for its cargo, was meant to ease the movement of goods to the neighbouring nation.
Kenya and South Sudan have over the years been working towards the completion of transnational highways, including the Eldoret-Lokichoggio-Nadapal-Kapoeta-Torit-Juba Road that would ease the movement of cargo between the two countries.
Kenya has also been fast-tracking the completion of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia (Lapsset), oil pipeline and the Lamu Port to link the two countries.
This comes at a time some shippers have been avoiding the Northern Corridor, which connects cargo from the port of Mombasa to Juba, Kigali, Kampala as well as DRC, and now shifting their cargo to the Central Corridor.
The Central Corridor, which is 1,300km long, begins at the port of Dar es Salaam and serves Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Eastern DRC. The northern corridor is 1,700 kilometres long.
The move by DRC to join East African Community (EAC) also poses a threat to the Port of Mombasa as it is slowly shifting the cargo that passes through the northern Corridor to the Central route to Kinshasa.