CARGO volumes and vessel traffic through Namibia’s main port at Walvis Bay have shown an increase over the past month as more goods destined for the country’s landlocked neighbours have been handled by the Namibian Ports Authority.
Mr. Elias Mwenyo, Manager: Business Development at Namport, confirmed the upward trend in cargo volumes and vessel traffic and said that competition amongst the various ports in the region is silently getting fiercer because the capacity of the different regional ports are being expanded.
“The fact that the new container terminal in the port of Walvis Bay is scheduled to be commissioned at the beginning of August holds some advantages for Namibia at this stage.”
The current economic uncertainty in South Africa caused by various factors such as ever looming strikes by workers of South Africa’s national transport authority have created a situation where vessels bypass the country’s ports opting to dock at the port of Walvis Bay to offload cargo destined for Namibia’s landlocked neighbours.
According to Mwenyo the increased volumes through Walvis Bay could have something to do with the situation in South African ports but it could also be the result of the successful marketing of the port to international customers that forms part of the plan to develop Walvis Bay into the logistics hub of choice for the Southern African Development Community.
“Vessels visiting the port do not necessarily inform Namport about their reason for doing so. That would be handled by the different shipping agents that deal with vessels schedules and routes. Namport facilitates the handling of vessels and cargo and we have seen an increase in volumes.”
Besides looming strikes, the ongoing inquiries into wide spread corruption over the past ten years in South Africa caused a debilitating situation where several people in senior management positions have been suspend and a high staff turnover at Transnet also forms part of the problem currently faced by South African harbours.
It has been reported by South African media that the citrus industry have run into trouble with the chaos currently reigning in the different ports. According to FreshPlaza.com some of the citrus producers have even started considering using Walvis Bay as an alternative port of export for their produce to reach markets in time.
Cold storage companies are facing a similar problem because of congestion.
Mwenyo said the Namibian Ports Authority would always welcome the business derived from increased volumes through the port.