East African countries (EAC) are set to suffer more importation delays following new Covid-19 cases in China and the Russian invasion of Ukraine increased congestion in the supply chains.
Already, authorities in Beijing have imposed lockdowns in regions reporting infections, restricting workers to port yards. At the same time, EAC, which imports more than half of its wheat from Ukraine, must now accept delays as the war disrupts routine transportation.
Shippers have already raised concern over expected delays in the supply of key goods, saying the number of ships docking at the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam is expected to reduce in the next few weeks.
Kenya Ship Agents Association chairman Silvester Kututa said Covid-19 restrictions imposed three weeks ago at Shanghai port in China have left factories temporarily shut down, leaving warehouses idle and slowing truck deliveries thereby exacerbating container logjams.
“Reports indicate that nearly one-third of goods leaving the port of Shanghai are held up due to a strict Covid-19 lockdown that is threatening freight. As a result, the end of April witnessed more than 23,000 ships rerouted to avoid the Chinese port thus causing shipping delays,” Silvester Kututa chairman of Kenya Ship Agents Association.
He further added that congestion will affect the East Africa Region (EAC) considering the business in the continent contributes a small percentage of global shipments.
As a result of recent Covid lockdowns in China, shipping lines are opting to operate to Europe where there are economies of scale and this will affect the shipment of goods in Africa. Also, the increasing non-tariff barriers in East Africa will affect shipments and increase freight costs further,” Silvester Kututa as quoted by the East African.
Concerns about the economic impact of lockdowns are leading Chinese authorities to introduce measures to facilitate major industrial operations and transport while maintaining their zero-Covid strategy.