Logistics hub dream ignited

..as Namport commissions N$4.2b container terminal

By Hilary Mare

NAMIBIA’S long standing goal of becoming the logistics hub for the SADC region has moved a step closer following the commissioning of Namport’s N$4.2 billion container terminal in Walvis Bay last week.

The new container terminal sits on 40 hectares of land reclaimed from the sea by China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) and now boasts of handling capacity of 750,000 containers per annum from its previous capacity of 350,000 containers.

Essentially, Namibia has now joined countries such as Australia, Brazil, Dubai and the Netherlands in the utilisation of reclaimed land for port expansion.

Speaking at the inauguration of the terminal, President Hage Geingob noted that the completion of the container terminal expansion puts Namibia on a firm trajectory towards realising its dream of transforming into an international logistics hub.

“Namibia is linked to neighbouring countries through the various transport corridors and we must strive to capitalise on this immense investment by harnessing the vast potential of our Southern African Development Community (SADC) neighbours that have no immediate access to the ocean. We have since coined a term of “sea linked countries”, to refer to what we previously referred to as “landlocked countries”. The new container terminal now gives us the additional capacity to serve both local and regional requirements,” Geingob said.

Zambia, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, and Zimbabwe are among the main land-linked, now sea-linked markets for seaborne transit cargo by volume going through the Port of Walvis Bay.

“Just last week we witnessed the inauguration of the Zimbabwe Dry Port, joining the other dry ports allocated to Zambia and Botswana. Request for a dry port from the Democratic Republic of Congo is currently under consideration. This is testimony to the immense opportunities for the new terminal to serve SADC and thereby support our regional integration agenda. We must ensure that the new facility is effectively utilised with increased throughput for the direct and indirect benefit for Namibia,” elaborated Geingob.

Affirming this, the African Development Bank’s Deputy Director General, Josephine Ngure, in statement delivered on her behalf also said the new terminal will definitely change the positioning of Namibia and will open up more opportunities to landlocked countries like Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia.

According to Namport director Nangula Hamunyela, the terminal increases Namport’s assets to N$7,6 billion.

The ceremony was attended by 1,500 delegates including former president, Hifikepunye Pohamba who officiated the ground breaking ceremony of the terminal in 2014.

Speaking on the same occasion, Vice President of CHEC, Li Yi, acknowledged that the project had been one of the most challenges among a host of projects that CHEC had undertaken adding that despite this, the execution of the projects was highly committed to safety.

“Over the five years of construction CHEC employed more than 2,000 Namibians and provided on-site training to over 800 local employees who now have attained new skills in the job market,” Yi said.

Chinese Ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming, said the completed new container terminal is set to work hand in hand with the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

During the event, both Namport and CHEC donated N$1 million each to help assist with the drought currently ravaging the country.

The migration from the old to the new terminal will be done between 17 and 24 August when the port will be temporarily shut down.