New Era (Windhoek)

13 May 2014

Namibia: 'Namport a Strategic Economic Asset' - Pohamba

Walvis Bay — President Hifikepunye Pohamba says the Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) is a strategic Namibian economic assets therefore the N$3 billion port expansion project is part of a long-term goal to improve the country's infrastructure and promote intra-regional trade.

The president said this on Friday during the groundbreaking of the Namport Container Terminal on Friday morning in Walvis Bay. The expansion of the container terminal would include 40 hectares of new land to be used for the construction of a modern container terminal, adding 600m of quay length to the existing 1500m; adding 650 000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) per annum capacity to the existing 350 000 TEU. Further, the expansion would "create much needed additional capacity for all port business to expand [that is] containers, bulk, and rig repair." The construction of the container terminal, is the single largest project of its kind in the country's history. The Chinese construction company, China Harbour and Engineering Company (CHEC) who were awarded the tender last year already started work on the mega-project at the port, including the construction of an underwater containment wall for the future container terminal.

The work involves giant geo-tubes to be filled with sand which will form the container terminal's underwater outer boundary. Once all is in place, massive dredging work will commence that will see mud and other sediments from the ocean floor in the port of Walvis Bay pumped into the containment area, to allow for an island to rise from the seabed. The outer barrier of this man-made island will then be covered by piles of rock and stone to form a protective breakwater for the container island. The container terminal is expected to be completed by 2017. "Statistics indicate that country's such as Angola, Zimbabwe and DRC showed an increase in trade volumes, while being served by the port of Walvis Bay and the Walvis Bay Corridor compared to those served by other ports. This is a clear indication that Namport plays a pivotal role in the country's economy and development," Pohamba said. He further said imports from South America, especially Brazil into the SADC region via the Port of Walvis Bay have increased.

According to president Pohamba the recently signed bilateral agreement between Namibia and Botswana for the construction of a railway that would link the two countries will also significantly contribute and strengthen Namibia's position in terms of trade. "In the same vein other landlocked countries will also benefit from the railway as it will provide them with a choice of corridors to choose from. At the same time we are upgrading various roads in the country that will also unlock economic benefits to the country," president Pohamba said.

President Pohamba futher said he expects the port to increase the country's trade capacity and to provide more efficient handling of cargo. "By 2017 once the port is operational, I want the volumes to double," he said. Funding for the project is provided by the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), while the Namibian government is financing the expansion of the port. This is done in line with the AfDB's 10-year strategic focus on infrastructure development and regional integration. The AfDB Group approved the construction of the new Port of Walvis Bay Container Terminal in July 2013 and the deal was signed in November last year.

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