N$400 million cold storage facility on cards

By Hilary Mare

CONSTRUCTION of a N$400 million cold chain facility that will bolster Namibia’s frozen food capacity at the Port of Walvis Bay is expected to begin in March, Robert de Villiers, acting managing director of Walvis Bay National Cold Storage has said.

De Villiers last week further highlighted that the facility capable of storing 12 500 tonnes of exports and imports was commissioned by the Namibian Industrial Development Agency (Nida) in keeping with the country’s goal to enhance its fisheries industry.

“Our government has a policy to process fish on land but they can’t implement the policy because currently there’s no on-site freezing capacity,” said De Villiers further adding that existing cold storage facilities, such as they are, were not equipped to meet the country’s cold chain objectives especially after the new port at Walvis was inaugurated in August 2019.

“It’s too small and you can’t get product out fast enough. The storage facility we’ll be building – some three kilometres from the international airport west of Walvis Bay proper – will be focused on first-world efficiencies.

“Although it’s more expensive to build, we guarantee getting a 30-tonne truck in and offloaded in less than 30 minutes,” he added.

The bigger picture of the 54 000 square metre facility’s processing capability, De Villiers emphasised, was that Namibia would no longer have to export fish via Spain to leading Namibian fish importers like Brazil.

“We will be able to export straight to our clients in South America. We are also looking at clients in Europe.”

According to De Villiers at least 75 percent of the facility will be concentrated on fish.

“However, we have also identified date and meat exports and chicken imports as possible beneficiaries of the new development,” he extended.

De Villiers also noted that Walvis Bay National Cold Storage was conceived towards the end of 2019 after Nida approach them to drive the project with construction having being delayed by Covid-19.

“All the design work is finished, approvals are done, and we’re ready to turn the first sods in building the facility.”

Moreover, the company has already identified that the new facility will have to be enlarged as soon as possible.

“Market potential necessitates ramping up capacity by a further 15 000 tonnes to 25 000. That will be a second-phase project we hope to initiate once the first phase is completed,” De Villiers said.

Construction work on the facility’s first phase is expected to take 18 months.

Irvaan Maharaj, SA-based business development manager for the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, whose responsibility it is to market the port and its logistical linkages, said the new facility would contribute significantly to the port’s potential.

Additional reporting by Freight News