WINDHOEK－Namibia’s new container terminal situated in the coastal town of Walvis Bay has placed the country in a more competitive position as it can now accommodate larger vessels, making it a preferred destination by many countries.
Built by the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), the container terminal is bringing to life Namibia’s goal of becoming a main logistics hub for the southern African region, unlocking huge trading opportunities between the rest of the world and Africa.
According to Namibian Port Authority (Namport) Acting Chief Executive Officer Kevin Harry, the container terminal has created opportunities that are navigating Namibia toward becoming the main gate for landlocked countries.
“The completion of the new Walvis Bay container terminal has elevated Namibia’s transport infrastructure to a well-functioning and high-quality standard. As a result, the road corridors that are linked to local and regional markets have experienced growth in cargo volumes,” Harry said.
Just recently, Namibia made history when it received the largest vessel to ever dock in the Namibian waters, a 335-meter Maersk Sheerness, with a loading capacity of 9,000 containers.
The arrival of this vessel was of great significance to the entire country because it places the country in a more competitive position as it now can accommodate larger vessels, Harry said.
The port has also become a saving grace for stranded empty cruise ships which are in limbo due to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing berthing space.
It has created opportunities not only for Namibia as a country but also for Walvis Bay locals who are directly benefiting from the expansion.
“The new container terminal increased economic activities during construction of the terminal and now that it is operational, we have seen the establishment of new vendors providing services to the port community: for example, the hospitality industry, transport and logistics, tourism and many more,” Harry said.
Surrounding landlocked countries have also benefited by being able to use the port to receive essential goods, especially during this time of COVID-19.
According to the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, the COVID-19 pandemic has made business grow for the company as potential clients see the benefits of the corridors and ports.
By April this year, cargo volumes for the month increased by 40 percent compared to previous months because ports in South Africa had closed, thereby cargo was re-directed to Namibia.
“The port of Walvis Bay and its corridors are seen as an efficient and secure trade route into southern Africa, hence the increase in new companies moving their cargo onto our route,” Walvis Bay Corridor Group Chief Executive Officer Hippy Tjivikua said in a previous interview.
The container terminal has now increased Namibia’s port assets to 7.6 billion Namibian dollars ($441 million).
For the coastal town locals, the terminal has also brought excitement and adventure, especially with the historical events of biggest vessels docking in Walvis Bay.
Elifas Erasi, 27, is a local who expressed much excitement on witnessing the docking of the historical vessel.
“It was really a spectacular, unforgettable experience in my life. I have lived here all my life and have never seen something like that. It is really an honor to have witnessed that,” Erasi said.
Apart from the excitement of historical events, the residents benefited mostly from employment creation during the construction and operations phase while also getting a chance to develop skills from Chinese experts working on the project.
During the five-year project, CHEC employed more than 2,000 Namibians and provided on-site training to over 800 local employees who now have attained new skills in the job market.
The new container terminal located in the port town of Walvis Bay was constructed on 40 hectares of land reclaimed from the sea, and more than doubled the container terminal’s carrying capacity to some 750,000 containers.