The Herald (Harare)

9 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Govt Seeks Partner for Walvis Bay Venture

Government is considering partnering the private sector in the construction of its Walvis Bay Dry Port facility under a public private partnership arrangement. Road Motor Services which is a subsidiary of the National Railways of Zimbabwe is currently spearheading the construction of the port in partnership with Walvis Bay Corridor Group and the Namibian Port Authority.

In September 2009, the Namibian Government granted Zimbabwe 19 000 square metres of land to construct its own dry port in order to boost the country's trade but due to financial constrains the project failed to take off.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Ministry Permanent Secretary Mr Munesushe Munodawafa told the Herald Business that Government is prepared to partner private sector in the construction of the port.

"Government is exploring the possibility of partnering private sector in the construction of the Walvis Bay Dry Port Facility in line with the Public Private Partnership arrangement as espoused under the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation," said Mr Munodawafa.

He said the project was allocated $1 million in the 2014 National Budget but to date no funding has been released from treasury. Construction of civil works at the site has been done to about 12 percent with about $3,5 million required to complete the civil works at the dry port.

"Government is currently seized with the drafting of specific terms of reference to be used to call for Expression of Interest from prospective takers of the project and this should be out in the next few weeks," said Mr Munodawafa. He said the project will open a strategic gateway to the sea for Zimbabwe hence the Ministry's current efforts.

Trade for Zimbabwe via Walvis Bay has increased in the past few years a large percentage of commodities have been transported along this corridor.

Zimbabwe's trade volumes through the Port of Walvis Bay have grown significantly to more than 2 500 tonnes per month.

Walvis Bay Corridor serves as a real alternative to link Zimbabwe to Europe, North America as well as South America.

Construction of the port was stopped due to lack of funding but was supposed to resume in November last year when the Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa promised to avail $1,4 million for the project. However no funds were availed.

Zimbabwe has been facing challenges in making payments to the WBCG and operations had to be stopped pending clearance of some outstanding fees.

There are also two other choices of corridors which is the Trans-Kalahari or Trans-Caprivi corridors. Both corridors are currently road-based, but the proposed new Trans-Kalahari railway from Botswana to Namibia is likely going to be linked to Bulawayo.

Botswana has also partnered Zimbabwe and Mozambique for a shorter project linking its coalfield with Mozambique for the construction of a new deep-water port in southern Mozambique and a rail system linking Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

The initial deal involving Namibia was supposed to link trade through Botswana with South Africa to the south, Namibia to the west, Zambia and Angola to the north-west, and Zimbabwe to the north, making it a prime network for the Southern African Development Community region.

Botswana's deal with Zimbabwe and Mozambique will be 400 kilometers shorter and will cost US$2 billion less than the one with Namibia.

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