Good rail network crucial for port - Uirab

16 Apr 2014 17:30pm
WINDHOEK, 16 APR (NAMPA) – The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Namibia Ports Authority (Namport), Bisey Uirab says the country’s ports will not fulfil their purpose if the supporting infrastructure is not working.
Speaking at an information session held by the Walvis Bay Corridor Group in collaboration with the National Planning Commission (NPC) here on Wednesday, Uirab said a comparison of the road and rail activities, in terms of bringing commodities in and out of the port of Walvis Bay, would show that consistently the rail activity is almost insignificant.
“Most of the commodities that come through the port are transported by road. Thus, we are saying if we want to become a logistics hub our rail must work,” Uirab stated.
He stressed that Namibia must invest in its railway infrastructure, adding that this will help the country not to destroy the roads, as all heavy commodities would be moved by rail.
“This is a serious concern for the country. Only about five per cent or less of the port volumes are transported by rail. The rest of the volumes are transported by road. This is a serious concern for us,” he said.
Investing in the rail sector, Uirab argued, would save the roads that are currently being destroyed by trucks and it will also cut down on the number of road accidents.
Meanwhile, Uirab also informed the gathering that the port if facing a multitude of challenges.
“Firstly, the port is boxed in by the lagoon - by the town of Walvis Bay and by the fishing industry. We cannot possibly develop the port in its current location. It is going to be very expensive and very difficult because of the location,” he explained.
The CEO indicated that the port is expanding the current container terminal on reclaimed land just to make sure the port has enough capacity for its container development.
The port can also not accommodate large vessels because of the challenges facing the port, he said, adding that the container terminal should be expanded by the year 2017.
“We are also putting up a dedicated berth for passenger vessels because we see more and more that Namibia is becoming famous for its tourism activities. So we will have a dedicated passenger vessel there,” he pointed out.
This, he said, will also respond to one of the goals of the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4), which is to promote tourism activities in Namibia.