SADC Gateway: Namibia to fast-track port project


Windhoek Namibia Ports Authority will start the first phase of a new harbour known as Southern Africa Development Community Gateway Port, in early 2015, a year ahead of initial schedule.

The first phase of the new harbour, situated 5 kilometres north of Walvis Bay on the way to Swakopmund and is aimed at catering for exporters and importers of commodities from landlocked Southern Africa neighbours, involves building a R4-billion oil tanker jetty, petroleum pipelines and a 75-million litre oil storage facility, Namport Chief Executive, Bisey Uirab, said in an interview recently.

“The first phase, construction of the tanker jetty of the Gateway Port that was planned for 2016 will commence in 2015 signifying the urgency of the project,” Uirab said.

Increasing demand from mining companies for oil and petroleum products “is also increasing the viability of this development ahead of expectations”, Uirab said.

Namibia raised its fuel levy on all grades by R0.10 per litre to R0.25, and will further raise it to R0.40 a litre to help finance the tanker berthing and storage facilities, Mines and Energy Minister, Isak Katali, said in a statement on August 28. 

China Harbour Engineering Co and state-owned Roads Contractor Company were awarded the tender to build the tanker jetty that can handle two 60 000-tonne deadweight (DWT) tankers, at any given time, Uirab said. The second and third phases of the port, initially slated to start in 2020, involve construction of a huge multi-purpose dry bulk terminal and a coal terminal, primarily to cater for about 65 million tonnes of shipments from Botswana’s Mmamabula coalfields with five berths.

Namibia and Botswana are jointly developing a 1 500km TransKalahari railway line to transport coal from eastern Botswana to markets in China and India. The new port also targets to handle increased shipments from Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Namport says it is strategically located to offer direct sailing to Europe, Asia, North American and Middle East.

“Our geographical positioning makes us the obvious and cost-effective gateway to SADC. We also capitalise on the fact that we are a medium size port compared to regional ports, we are less congested hence waiting time is reduced,” Uirab said.

Namport in May started expanding the container terminal at its existing deep water port of Walvis Bay to raise capacity to 1 million twenty foot equivalent (TEU), as it gears for increased business within the region.


Railway Line


 The SADC Gateway port is linked to the TransKalahari Railway line, so far the biggest cross-border rail project, which will also serve as a major trade artery between Namibia, Botswana, DRC, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Namibia and Botswana will invite private sector bidders to tender to conduct a detailed feasibility study on the construction of the Trans-Kalahari Railway line in the coming two months.

The two countries, which are jointly developing the railway line want to issue bids for the construction of the railway line before the end of the year, Namibia’s National Planning Commission Permanent Secretary, Levi Hungamo, said in an interview.

Botswana and Namibia agreed in March this year to establish a jointly owned company to administer the development of the railway line, estimated to cost nearly US$15 billion.

A jointly administered office would be opened ‘soon’ in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, and both countries are currently in the “process of selecting staff members”.

“We would want to see the feasibility study concluded before the end of the year and have the tenders out in the market inviting potential developers this year. We can then start identifying winning bidders in 2015,” Hungamo said.

Botswana has an estimated coal resource of more than 200 billion metric tons in its Mmamabula coalfields and wants to ship 115 million tonnes of the fuel per year within a decade to meet growing demand in China and India.

Various companies would be involved in the feasibility studies and the construction of the rail line, Hungamo said. “There is no single company that possess the skills to do this project, we expect multi-disciplinary companies from feasibility to construction. Or even consortiums,” Hungamo said.

“We want to see this project developed now, we don’t want to see this development in 20 years,” he added.

September 2014
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