MOMBASA, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Kenya’s main port of Mombasa handled 11.9 percent more cargo in the first half of this year, helped by increased efficiency after its handling capacity was expanded, the port’s management said on Tuesday.
The increase came despite uncertainty surrounding national elections in August, which have since been nullified by the Supreme Court. Kenya will hold a fresh presidential election on Oct. 17.
Last year Kenya commissioned a second container terminal worth $300 million. The terminal is 900 metres long with three docking berths and provides an additional cargo-handling capacity of 550,000 TEUs (20-foot-equivalent units) per year.
The port handled 15 million tonnes of cargo between January and June compared with 13.4 million in the same period last year.
During first six months of 2017, imports accounted for 12.7 million tonnes against 11.3 million handled in the same 2016 period, an increase of 12 percent, the Kenya Ports Authority said in a report.
It handled 1.87 million tonnes in exports, up 0.5 percent on the 1.86 million tonnes handled in the same period last year.
The port, a major trade gateway to east Africa, handles imports such as fuel for Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Investors and consumers were cautious in the run up to elections due to concerns of potential violence during the polls.
About 1,250 people were killed in ethnic violence following a disputed presidential election in 2007.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers said last week business at the port had slowed down owing to election uncertainties, but port management said they were not worried.
“Port operations are still running smoothly. We are posting daily improved figures in terms of tonnes of cargo handled, and we don’t foresee any problems even with the repeat of elections,” Hajj Masemo, a spokesman for Kenya Ports Authority, said. (Editing by Clement Uwiringiyimana, editing by Louise Heavens)