By Magreth Nunuhe
WINDHOEK–IF THE town of Usakos, some 180 kilometres from Walvis Bay on the western coast of Namibia, were to establish a dry port, it could turn the area into a logistics and transport hub and boost investment that can support social and economic activity and bring in net income worth R1.3 billion.
This is according to John Sanders, a business entrepreneur and owner of Amir Consulting Services, which specialises in transport economics and logistics.
He has proposed an ambitious investment plan of R150 million that, according to him, will speed up the handling of cargo and transport of consignments to desired destinations from the deep water port of Walvis Bay into the SADC region.
Walvis Bay serves many land-locked countries and is known as one of the most efficient natural ports with a significant capacity to store and move cargo in Southern Africa. Sanders maintains that Usakos is strategic because it lies on a transport corridor and highway, the Trans-Kalahari Highway and the Trans-Kunene corridors, which connect to the SADC region.
The Walvis Bay Corridor connects to Namibia’s capital city Windhoek, to Botswana and Gauteng Province in South Africa via the Trans-Kalahari Highway, while the Trans-Kunene corridor links from the Swakopmund-Henties Bay–Kamanjab road in the west of the country to Ruacana in the north and also links to the Omahenene border post via Outapi-Omafo–Oshikango road to Angola.
Sanders believes that a dry port at Usakos, which would be an extension of Namport’s Walvis Bay port, would speed up the administrative processing of cargo as some consignments can be immediately transported to that town to free up space at the harbour so that other cargo can be handled.
“Consignments can be rearranged or repackaged at Usakos for different locations. It will be faster and time-saving if containers spend less time at the harbour (in Walvis Bay),” he reckons.
According to Sanders, it takes five to six days for cargo to clear at the Walvis Bay due to capacity challenges, which is why Namport is busy expanding the harbour, but that situation can be turned around with the construction of the Usakos dry port, which could reduce the time by one or two days.
Namport had to reclaim 40 hectares of new land from the sea, as the present capacity is not sufficient for the amount of container and bulk storage required to meet its current and future demand.
“At the Usakos dry port, same services will be provided, more space will be created and monetary savings can improve utilisation of resources,” he explains.
He says Namport and TransNamib could make massive profits by establishing the dry port, which he envisages could create up to 100 permanent jobs in the town, as transport and logistics companies would open offices and warehouses, while such a terminal would also require more workforce.
According to his research, only one to two trains move cargo per day, while TransNamib has the capacity to move up to five trains a day, but with the establishment of the Usakos dry port, cargo would increase, which would allow up to five trains to operate a day.
“Resources are under-utilised at the moment because there is not enough demand for specific rail links,” he maintains.
Sanders has called on the business community and investors to consider establishing such a dry port, which he believes would generate more revenue for the town and the country at large.