Services & FACILITIES
Since opening for business in 2000, Grain Bulk Handlers Ltd has revolutionized the handling of bulk cereal imports in Mombasa and in doing so has brought operations up to international standards in accordance with the port’s Master Plan.
Grain Bulk Handlers Ltd (GBHL) receives deliveries of bulk cereal imports from around the world at the port of Mombasa in order to meet the ever-increasing demand from millers, traders, NGOs and relief agencies in East and Central Africa, including Great Lakes, Southern Sudan and Somalia.
The GBHL terminal is a shining example for Africa of clear vision and sound investment matched by a drive for high productivity and good business practice. Being recognised as ISO (ISO 9001:2000) and ISPS Code compliant, GBHL is also a member of the International Association of Ports & Harbours (IAPH). Yet prior to the commissioning of the facility in 2000, grain imports were handled by using a combination of grabs, vacuuvators and mobile bagging plants. At that time, this method was the only ideal one.
Quite naturally, this resulted in low daily discharge rates of approximately 2,500mts, high costs to both importers and vessel operators, heavy spillage levels, high dust emissions and weak accounting procedures.
GBHL immediately improved quayside productivity by being able to discharge at a rate of 600mts per hour. The average daily discharge rate at the terminal from specialized bulk carriers is 11,000mts. On some occasions daily performance rates are as high as 13,800mts.
The immediate impact of the improved discharge of bulk grain imports at Mombasa was a reduction of handling costs to importers; this fell from US$24.00 per tonne to US$16.00 per tonne for bagged deliveries and to US$ 14.50 per tonne for bulk deliveries.
There were a number of other benefits for ship operators and importers in terms of faster discharge times, lower freight and insurance costs, greater economies of scale, improved cargo quality, better accounting and reduced inventories and crucially, better accounting of discharged and delivered quantities. The KPA has also seen better berth utilization as stipulated in their master plan and increased revenues from harbour dues. Equally, the Kenyan economy has gained from additional hard currency earnings.
Being a Customs area as gazetted and recognised by the Kenya Revenue Authority (Customs & Excise Dept) allowed to receive un-entered cargo, customs and members of the public can monitor the scale from a window at the tower house on the quay apron. A print out of the progressive weighing is given to customs after completion of discharge. The system ensures greater accuracy and reduced pilferage of grain handled through GBHL as it is weighed on discharge, on bagging or delivery in bulk and at weighbridges, road and rail on exiting the terminal.
The terminal was in fact designed to handle a wide range of agricultural produce including those which have traditionally been imported bagged as well as in containers such as rice, sorghum, soya beans and even malt and barley. The terminal also handles fertilisers but to date only wheat, maize, soya beans and sorghum have been handled due to market demand. The potential annual throughput capacity is above three million tones.
The entire operation and systems used by GBHL are eco-friendly and user-friendly. All discharged grains run through enclosed overhead discharge equipment and conveyors. The grain passes through dust extraction devices before entering the silos. This is a safety measure to reduce the risk of explosion. It is repeated before deliveries.
Importers using GBHL transit terminal thus receive clean grain with the dust already extracted, so dust emissions in GBHL operations are minimal. The operators of GBHL recognise the need to protect the environment and to maintain handling systems that are free of noise, dust and spillage.
The improvements achieved at the port have not however been matched by developments further down the transport chain since most millers have yet to develop bulk reception facilities. Most of the discharged bulk grain is currently bagged for delivery. Furthermore, inadequacies of off-take facilities, by road and rail hampers the efficient turnaround of silo space. This results in long dwell times at the transit silos for bulk grain imports.
As an interim measure, GBHL leased warehouses at the port, near the terminal and within the Island to provide a total of about 75,000 tonnes of long term storage for grain handled through its terminal especially for transit and transshipment. Use of the warehouses has helped to reduce cargo dwell time at the transit silos.
But a long term solution was needed to the problem. GBHL management was convinced that the answer was to provide long term silo storage for bulk grains. Plans were made to develop long term bulk storage silos in an area near the transit terminal that could easily be connected to the current transit silos complex by conveyors.