Bots businesses still warming up to dry port at Walvis Bay
By Magreth Nunuhe
WINDHOEK – The Botswana Dry Port in Walvis Bay on the western coast of Namibia is now fully operational and handles both breakbulk and containerised cargo, said Derick Mokgatle, Sea Rail Botswana’s dry port manager.
“Since opening for operations, the traffic volumes at Botswana Dry Port have mainly been vehicles, handling between 100 and 200 vehicles per month. These are mainly used vehicle imports from the UK destined for Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia,” he added.
The services offered at the facility are mainly storage measuring 36,200 square meters as well as transportation of cargo to inland destinations, that is, collections and deliveries.
Meanwhile, Sea Rail Botswana acknowledged that businesses in that country snubbed the multi-million state-of-the art facility.
Most cargo businesses are said to prefer the traditional Durban port in South Africa to transport their goods in and out of Botswana, because a lot of imports come from eastern countries, especially in Asia, which makes shipping to Durban shorter.
In addition, the railway line is connected from Durban to Botswana’s major economic centers, which makes it advantageous.
“Initially there was little awareness about the Botswana Dry Port and its services for the Botswana market. We can tell this by the number of inquiries being made daily currently of companies and individuals requesting for more information and quotations to use our route or facility,” he articulated.
Mokgatle said that it was a sign of demand and already a few (of the enquiries) have been converted into business leads “that we should reap from in the near future”.
“There is still a lot of awareness that needs to be built and a brand positioning to make the Botswana Dry Port a household name especially for the Botswana market. Notwithstanding, this our target market includes the Gauteng Province in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the DRC, where we have identified a number of commodities that can be diverted to our route,” he disclosed.
Mokgatle was optimistic that the market at the Botswana Dry Port in Namibia would grow out of efficiencies that they have built into their business model and they would therefore be able to offer competitive pricing in addition to meeting the just in time (JIT) cargo deliveries that clients require.
Furthermore, he added that they have business leads for cargo from the Asian market going to Botswana for clients who want faster transit times for their cargo avoiding the slower congested Durban route.
Initially the market for containers and breakbulk at Botswana Dry Port could not be penetrated because the port had to meet certain operational requirements, which have now been met and hence the roll out of the marketing strategy, according to Mokgatle.
The challenges include stiff competition from other entities that provide similar services around the port of Walvis Bay and the lack of volumes destined for Botswana since the traditional Durban route is still being used predominantly.
“The lack of significant growth again in the cargo volumes in the region can also be attributed to this since new entrants in the business like the Botswana Dry Port face a difficult challenge to get a market share out of the same pie of the already existing cargo volumes,” he argued, saying that competition by marine ports is one factor while all regional ports are constantly working on improving their facilities and aggressively marketing themselves for the regional cargo volumes.