THE closure of South African harbours due to the complete lockdown of the neighbouring country due to the coronavirus has seen opportunities for the Namibian Ports Authority to handle increased numbers of containers.
Two container vessels that under normal circumstances would have docked in Cape Town or another South African harbour opted for Walvis Bay, where the transhipment of containers is still possible.
Although all ports of entry in Namibia have been closed for passengers and crews, cargo is still landing with workers adhering to strict safety measures introduced by Namport since the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Elias Mwenyo, Manager: Business Development at Namport, said that if the trend continues, the throughput of container volumes will increase.
He said currently, the ports authority is handling some transhipment of containers on behalf of South Africa.
At 70%, the transhipment of containers forms the bigger portion of business for the new container terminal.
Thirty percent of the terminal’s business is made up of the direct import an export of cargo.
The dramatic drop in international crude oil prices due to oversupply from oil producing countries and an increase in passage fees for ships sailing through the Suez Canal saw giant container ships being ordered to follow the ancient shipping route around the Cape of Good Hope.
One such a ship that would sail past the port of Walvis Bay on its way around the Cape would be the Alexander von Humboldt.
The huge container ship is 400 metres long and 54 metres wide.
The vessel displaces 200 000 tonnes and has the capacity to transport 16 000 TEU (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) cargo containers.
The giant ship would not be able to berth at the quay in Walvis Bay because of its size and deep draught.
If it would have been possible for the ship to enter the harbour, the length of it alone will take up two thirds of the new quay of the new container terminal.
The Alexander von Humboldt, which is roughly four times the size of the container vessels that normally moors in the port of Walvis Bay, will sail past Walvis Bay on Sunday while on its way from Europe to Malaysia.