Namibia Says Walvis Bay Harbor Work to Start a Year Early

Work on a new port in Namibia to export commodities and import fuel for southern African states will start in 2015, a year earlier than initially planned, the country’s port authority said.

A 4 billion Namibian dollar ($360 million) oil-tanker jetty, petroleum pipelines and 75 million liter (20 million gallon) oil storage facility form part of the first phase, Namibia Ports Authority Chief Executive Officer Bisey Uirab said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The harbor, known as the Southern Africa Development Community Gateway port, will be built 5 kilometers (3 miles) north of Walvis Bay. It’s aimed at catering for exporters and importers of commodities from Namibia’s landlocked neighbors.

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

Namibia raised its fuel levy on all grades by 10 Namibian cents a liter to 25 cents, and will increase it further to 40 cents a liter to help finance the tanker berthing and storage facilities, Mines and Energy Minister Isak Katali said in a statement on Aug. 28. China Harbor Engineering Co. and the state-owned Roads Contractor Co. were awarded the tender to build a tanker jetty able to handle two 60,000 metric ton deadweight tankers, at any given time, Uirab said.

Botswana Coal

The second and third phases of the port, initially slated to start in 2020, involve construction of a dry-bulk terminal and a five-berth coal terminal, primarily to cater for 65 million tons of projected shipments from Botswana’s Mmamabula coalfields.

Namibia and Botswana are jointly developing a 1,500 kilometer Trans-Kalahari railway to transport coal from eastern Botswana to markets in China and India. The governments intend to invite bids to build the track by the year end.

The new port is also intended to handle increased shipments from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Namport says the harbor’s position is strategic for routes to Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East.

Regional Gateway

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

In the latest evidence of cooperation between the neighbors, Botswana’s dry port at Walvis Bay, developed at a cost of 50 million pula ($5 million), started operating, Botswana Railways said yesterday in a statement.

The port was built as part of Botswana’s strategy to reduce reliance on South African ports because of labor unrest and higher costs. Namibia in 2008 granted Botswana 36,233 square meters of land at Walvis Bay under a 50-year lease. Namibia also granted dry-port facilities to Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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