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• Definition:

According to IMO, a stowaway is defined as person who is secreted on a ship, or in cargo which is subsequently loaded on the ship, without the consent of the ship owner or the Master or any other responsible person and who is detected on board the ship after it has departed from a port.

Attempted stowaway is a person who is secreted on a ship, or in cargo which is subsequently loaded on the ship, without the consent of the ship owner or the Master or any other responsible person and who is detected before the ship has departed from the port of embarkation

How stowaways gets access to the ship:

  1. through loose security facilities
  2. hiding in cargo
  3. as authorized service provider on board the ship :port workers, stevedores, agents, ship chandlers, cleaners, ship repairers, security, tallying persons, contractors, etc
  4. corruption/collusion with those authorized

Common hiding points on board the ship

  1. cargo holds, tanks
  2. empty container, deck cranes
  3. engine rooms, stores,
  4. chain lockers,
  5. accommodation areas
  6. behind false panels, void space
  7. life boats

Main Stated Destinations for Stowaways from East African Ports

  1. Europe
  2. USA
  3. Australia
  4. South Africa

Some Causes of Stowaways

  1. search for greener pasture /better, new life
  2. asylum/refugee status seeking
  3. youth unemployment
  4. economic hardships
  5. poor governance
  6. political unstability

Impact of Stowaways to the Community

  1. increased financial burdens to public and private
  2. disruption of arrival, stay and departure of ships, cargo and people
  3. communicable diseases dangers
  4. ports, ships, cargo and crew security threats
  5. endangered own stowaways lives

Challenges in Resolving Stowaway Cases

  1. Differences in national legislation between:
  2. The State of embarkation
  3. The State of disembarkation
  4. The flag State of the ship
  5. The stowaway’s State of apparent, claimed or actual nationality/citizenship or right of residence
  6. The States of transit during repatriation.
  7. complex repatriation procedure involving: masters, ship owners, port authorities, agents, immigration authorities, etc

Some preventive measures for stowaways

  1. cooperation among all stakeholders
  2. ports and ships implement in full imo’s isps code on security equipments, is inclusive
  3. biometric control
  4. check in-out for all
  5. governments policies on prevention legislation, youth education, employment
  6. prosecute offenders as port facility trespassers and their collaborators
  7. inform the embarking port to prevent future occurrences
  8. government policies on youth skills and employment
The term ‘Average’ in marine insurance has two meanings:

(1) In marine insurance, in the case of a partial loss, or emergency repairs to the vessel, average may be declared. This covers situations, where, for example, a ship in a storm might have to jettison certain cargo to protect the ship and the remaining cargo. ‘General Average’ requires all parties concerned in the venture (Hull/Cargo/Freight/Bunkers) to contribute to compensate the losses caused to those whose cargo has been lost or damaged. ‘Particular Average’ is levied on a group of cargo owners and not all of the cargo owners.

(2) In the situation where an insured has under-insured, i.e. insured an item for less than it is worth, average will apply to reduce the amount payable. There are different ways of calculating average, but generally the same proportion of under-insurance will be applied to any payout due.

  • An average adjuster is a marine claims specialist responsible for adjusting and providing the general average statement. He is usually appointed by the ship-owner or insurer.
  • Global Fleet,

According to Alpha liner, as of 1st January, 2015 there were 5,035 cellular ships with combine capacity of over 18.37 million TEUs the increase of 1.1 million TEUs from the previous year. The idle fleet closed 2014 at 227,900 TEUs down 71% from the previous year and averaged381, 000 TEUs over the year compared with 602,000TEUs in 2013.


  • Ships getting bigger and bigger!!

It is now 18 years since 1996 when the world’s first 6,000-container capacity ship, the Regina Maersk, first set sail. The Globe, Triple-E and the MSC Oscar are more than three times as big. So, does this rapid development mean ships will continue to get bigger?

On Monday morning, 21 July, 2014 Mary Maersk left Algeciras, Spain on its eastward journey, bound for Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia. But this was not just any voyage. On board were no less than 17,603 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), the highest number ever loaded on a vessel. That was the Triple-E series, Mary Maersk with a nominal capacity of 18,270 TEU. The ship is 400m long and 59m wide, of 14.5m draft and 73m in height with optimum speed of 19knots (35km/hr) and top speed of 28knots (46km/hr) and its deadweight is 165,000 tons.


Mv Mary Maersk departs Busan, South Korea, September 16, 2013. Image (c) Vladimir Toniæ


The ship got her name Mary Maersk in Singapore by Ms Ho Ching the Temasek Holding CE in December, 2013. This how it went “I name you Mary Maersk, Ms Ho said. “As you sail the waters of the world, may your journeys be smooth and your tasks successful. May you bring happiness to the crew and be a safe haven for all who board you, and may you bring prosperity and pride to all. I wish you God Speed”


Just about three months later on 3rd December, 2014 another giant ‘the Globe’ owned by Shanghai based China Shipping Container Lines began her maiden voyage at Gingdao. The Globe which is more than 400m long, 56.8m wide and 73m high can carry 19,100 standard 20ft containers taking over the Triple – E which can take 18, 270 standard 20ft containers.


The MSC Oscar – Current largest container ship (source:

The MSC Oscar – Current largest container ship (source:


The Globe has not stayed long on top as the Oscar owned by Mediterranean Shipping Company with carrying capacity of 19,224 standard 20ft containers was delivered on the 8th January, 2015 and began her maiden voyage on 25th January, 2015 just 53 days after the Globe’s maiden voyage.

“The 18,000 to 20,000-capacity ships can really only sail on the Asia to Europe routes. Ports in other routes, including those in the US, couldn’t handle them. About 22,500 seem to be the size that people believe is the ultimate. Lack of port access becomes a problem after that stage.”

But the main problem facing world shipping at the moment is that there’s too much of it for the amount of cargo in circulation. This has increased competition between firms.

“The industry will continue to face overcapacity in the coming years,” says Chee Chen Tung, chairman of Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line. “Despite the gradual recoveries of the developed economies, demand growth is not expected to return to the pre-global financial crisis level over the short to medium term.”


With over 80 per cent of cargo by volume of world trade is carried by sea. International shipping and ports provide crucial linkages in global supply-chains and are essential for the ability of all countries, including those that are landlocked, to access global markets. Ports expansions and modernization in our region are inevitable for expeditious flow of cargo.

When improving trade performance and competitiveness, a holistic approach is needed to combine policy actions and measures targeting the access to cost-effective transport services, the energy efficiency and sustainability of transport systems and the impacts of technological change on transport operations, need to be addressed to improve seamless flow of goods and services in the region.

There was a drop in shipping costs which has been influenced by the global transformation of maritime transport spurred by globalization over the past two decades due to the growing market of container traffic, which has been the fastest-growing segment of maritime transport. Developments in cargo handling through new technologies and reduced crew sizes have had an impact on the operational costs and per-unit cost of ocean cargo transport. Port reforms and increased investment in information and communication technology, innovation and new technologies have also led to greater efficiency and productivity at port level, reducing the time of cargo handling, and in turn affecting terminal charges and reducing overall cargo prices.

However, shippers in our region do not benefit much from the drop of shipping cost because we have not done much on reducing delays during cargo clearance, proliferation of charges in the supply logistics chain, higher inland transport cost, container demurrages and storage charges. Therefore, it is imperative for the shipping fraternity to work together against inefficiencies in our ports to make our imports affordable and our exports competitive.

Challenges in EA Major Ports

Regional major ports, Mombasa and Dar es Salaam have continued to suffer from congestion mainly attributed to lack of enough containers stacking space, long cargo clearance procedures, poor cargo off take by rail and road traffic jams within the city roads, poor quality of declarations by importers resulting to rejections and frequent downtime of ports and customs systems.

However, efforts are in place to curb the problem e.g. The recent commissioning of berth 19 at the port of Mombasa has helped a lot in creating space in the port. The ongoing efforts/initiatives to construct berth 13 and 14 in Dar es Salaam port will bring about positive impact at the port in terms of port space and increased cargo throughput capability.

Furthermore, processes are under way to construct a mega ports at Lamu in Kenya and at Mbegani and Mwambani in Tanzania as a long term solution. The introduction of Single Window System in Kenya and Tanzania Customs Integration System (TANCIS) in Tanzania are other efforts to curb cargo clearance delays hence reduction of cost of doing business.

The ports in the region like Dar Es Salaam, Mombasa, Pout Louis and others continue to be important ports of call by shipping lines but are increasingly becoming operational feeder ports for major lines of the world most of which are providing round the world service.

In short, Dar es Salaam and Mombasa ports being the only major ports in the region are facing common challenges such as:

  • Recurring port congestion which leads to threats from shipping lines to impose Vessel Delay Surcharges (VDS). The issue of VDS and other surcharges imposed by shipping line require systematic and collective negotiation to tackle them;
  • Traffic jams on roads exiting the ports. Ongoing port expansions require dedicated means of transport through the congested roads of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa.
  • Mistrust between the taxmen and the businessmen which leads to tedious clearance procedures causing delays;
  • Poor cargo off take due to dilapidated railway infrastructures;
  • Lack of adequate capacity to handle increasing demand in particular the containerized cargo (current container terminals berth occupancy is over 80%)

In view of the above we would suggest as follows:

  • Port capacity- it is imperative to expedite expansion projects of berth 13 and 14 at Dar es Salaam port with urgency.
  • The changing trade pattern of shipping calls for review of cargo clearance procedures in the port to match with the current changing shipping trade pattern;
  • Port authorities and revenue authorities to intensify and speed up the auctioning of overstayed containers;
  • Port authorities and revenue authorities need to consider appointing private firms to deal with the auctioning of overstayed containers at the port so that Port and revenue authorities stay focused on their core functions;
  • Other players in the supply logistics chain like CFS/ICD, Banks, Government agents should operate 24/7 in tandem with Port and revenue authorities who have embraced the 24/7 working hours in port;
  • Port authorities should consider having interest in rail transport business to enable them influence events in this sector as far as cargo off-take is concerned
  • Port, CFS and ICDs operators have adequate cargo handling equipment in order to cope with increasing volume of cargo.
  • Clearing and Forwarders Associations enforce its code of conduct to its members and monitor its implementation to ensure that its members operate within set standards of their professionalism.
  • To improve the cargo off-take from the port, by the Governments working with the private sector through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) to revive and modernize the railway systems.
  • Installation and rehabilitation of port facilities, especially in small coastal port.
  • To instill a spirit of mutual benefits and accountability, by stakeholders developing and signing the Service Level Agreement which identifies who should do what and to what performance level so that whoever fails should be accountable for the failure.

The above suggestions intend to improve in the Logistics Performance Index (LPI) rankings which are not impressive in our countries compared to rest of the world. The best five performers worldwide are Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, UK and Singapore. According to Connecting to Compete, LPI in 2014 countries in East and Central Africa are ranked as follows:


Logistics Performance Index 2014 Rankings for countries using ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam

  2012 2014
  Rank LPI Score Rank LPI Score
Burundi 155 1.61 107 2.56
DR Congo 143 2.21 159 1.88
Kenya 122 2.43 74 2.81
Malawi xx xx 73 2.81
Rwanda 139 2,27 80 2.76
Sudan 148 2.10 153 2.16
Tanzania 88 2,65 133 2.33
Uganda xx xx xx xx
Zambia xx xx 123 2.54

Source: Connect to Compete: Number of Countries Ranked is 160 (2014). XX = Not ranked

The international LPI analyzes the countries according to the following six components:

  • The efficiency of customs and border clearance (Customs)
  • The quality of trade and transport infrastructure (Infrastructure)
  • The easy of arranging competitively priced shipments (Easy of Arranging Shipments)
  • The competence and quality of logistics Services (Quality of Logistics Services)
  • The ability to track and trace the consignment (Tracking and Tracing)
  • The frequency with which the consignments reach consignees within scheduled or expected delivery times (Timeliness)

Improvement in both hardware (Infrastructure) and Software (Services) is inevitable to facilitate the expeditious flow of goods and services thorough the entire supply chains logistics.

LPI plays an important role in determining the GCI (Global Competitiveness Index) of the country.



Container Weight Verification

Resolution on the Verification of Container Weight in the Supply Chain Adopted on May 9, 2013 at the 28th IAPH World Ports Conference in Los Angeles, USA, the May 2014 SOLAS Convention amendment that requires a shipper to provide the Weight Verification Certificate (WVC) prior to loading a container on ship becomes effective July 2016.