Zimbabwe dry port operationalised

By Hilary Mare

ZIMBABWE’S Walvis Bay dry port is set to open for business this week to pave way for the smooth flow of the country’s imports and exports.

This was confirmed by Zimbabwe Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa following a cabinet meeting held last Tuesday which discussed the operationalisation of the dry port and how it will impact on the country’s trade volumes.

“The dry port facility which was officially inaugurated by His Excellency the President on the 26th of July 2019 is set to commence operations next week. The facility was established for purposes of cargo handling storage, and freight logistics. Zimbabwe will derive tremendous benefits from the dry port through facilitation of the smooth flow of the country’s imports and exports,” she said.

Confidente understands that the same cabinet has directed ministries and their agencies to commence using the facility especially in view of the need to decongest traditional routes to the Mozambican and South African ports.

The dry port facility was built on an estimated 19 000 square metres given to Zimbabwe by Namibia on a lease agreement of over 50 years.

Opening the facility which is expected to provide Zimbabwe with a strategic and cheaper gateway to the Atlantic Ocean for its manufacturers and international businesses, Mnangagwa went one step further, revealing that Zimbabwe and Namibia are considering constructing a railway line linking the two countries to further enhance the movement of goods to and from the port.

“I have been discussing with my colleague and counterpart Mr President, how we should improve the land connection now from here to Zimbabwe. The biggest possibility is the construction of a railway line,” Mnangagwa said.

Mnangagwa said the dry port was expected to help foster regional integration as it will not benefit Zimbabwe alone, but other countries in SADC.

“Through this new facility Zimbabwe’s status has changed from landlocked to sea-linked. The fact that the Port of Walvis Bay is connected to the rest of the SADC through the various corridors that has been developed and promoted by the Namibian Government has not only opened up a new trade route for Zimbabwe, but has created plenty of new opportunities for the business fraternity to capitalise on,” he said adding that the facility will go a long way towards the realisation of economic development and regional integration.

Currently, Zimbabwe and other landlocked countries in SADC rely on Beira, Maputo and Durban ports, which are now congested.

“It is going to serve Zimbabwe Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and possibly DRC. This facility provides us in Zimbabwe with a direct alternative shipping route on the Atlantic side for both exports and imports from the Americas, the Far East, Europe and West Africa.

“It will further broaden the prospects of our companies to increase trade within the context of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), by promoting inter-African trade,” he said.

President Hage Geingob, who was also at the inauguration, said since the integration of Walvis Bay into Namibia in 1994 it has been the Namibian government’s vision to develop a port that can serve its landlocked neighbours and facilitate trade relations in the region.

“We are confident this dry port will become a one-stop shop for seamless logistics to and from Zimbabwe through the Namibian port,” said Geingob.