Walvis Bay — The port expansion project currently under construction at the Namibia Ports Authority (Namport) in Walvis Bay, has been delayed by at least a year and the commissioning of the project is now set for 2019 and not next year, as initially planned.
Port engineer ElzevirGelderbloem spoke to New Era about the port expansion project on Tuesday and said despite the overall delays the container terminal is 58 percent complete.
China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) was in 2012 awarded the N$3.4 billion contract to expand the port on 40 hectares of reclaimed land. The project was expected to be completed this month and commissioned in 2018.
Gelderbloem said the delay was due mainly to the geotechnical conditions below the seabed at the project site and its effects, which were not foreseen and had to be identified and addressed.
The difficult geotechnical conditions are due to a 23-metre thick diatomaceous layers (also known as a slit layer of dead organic matter), which starts about 20 metres below the seabed. Due to this CHEC had to spend additional time to research the layer and its impact on the project.
"This required the contractor to do additional testing and to change some of his construction methods, resulting in the delay," Gelderbloem explained. The additional testing and changing in construction methods will not influence the total cost of the project, which is set at N$4.3 billion, he said.
"Note that the costs include all contracts in the project, of which the biggest went to CHEC, which is worth N$3.4 billion. The CHEC contract includes a 30 percent local content requirement, which they are performing well in achieving," he said.
Once completed the expansion will allow Namport to accommodate larger and longer container vessels, as well as efficient ship-to-shore cranes, resulting in increased cargo volumes, as well as more job and business opportunities for Namibians.
The mega-project includes the construction of a modern container terminal, lengthening the quay by 600-metres to 1,500m and 650,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) per annum capacity. The terminal will have two berths of 600 metres in length, a -16.0 CD water depth, will accommodate container vessels of 8,000 TEUs and be able to handle 750,000 TEUs per annum.
Gelderbloem further explained that despite the project having been scheduled for completion by mid-2018, commissioning will only be in 2019. "We will also be conducting comprehensive trial-runs of the new container terminal," thus commissioning will only take place at the end of 2019, he said.