A growing company

The development of the Searail Botswana Dry Port facility in Walvis Bay has already ensured foreign direct investment of over N$70 million for Namibia to date.

27 October 2020 | Infrastructure

Derick Mokgatle; Acting MD, Searail Botswana Dry Port; “The dry port can now handle all types of sensitive cargo. . .”

Walvis Bay



An estimated N$60 million inclusive of current developments was already spent on developing the Searail Botswana Dry Port facility in Walvis Bay.

The facility, which opened in 2015 after an agreement between Botswana and Namibia port authorities was reached in 2009, was obtained as a barren piece of land and then developed from scratch starting with the earthworks and paving of the whole 36ha facility.

An administration block was developed and other required infrastructure such as a recently commissioned reefer station with 40 plugin points were added.

In terms of employment, the dry port has a staff complement of 23. Equipment available at the facility includes a reach stacker, side loader and forklift.

“At first the facility was popular with the importation of vehicles from the UK going to various countries in the region. There are 300 parking bays utilised for parking RoRo vehicles. The facility also handles breakbulk such as cement and timber, all types of containers and other commodities allowed by the port of Walvis Bay,” said acting managing director of the Searail Botswana Dry Port facility, Derick Mokgatle.



Capacity

The dry port's 36 200m² can handle 4 800 cars annually with its assigned 300 parking bays. The facility offers general housing as well as the potential to develop specialised warehousing that can handle a combined 80 000 tonnes. It also accommodates a container handling facility which handles 17 000 TEUs every year.

Once complete, the construction of a 3 000 square meter warehouse will ensure that perishables such as fish, beef, fruits and vegetables are added to the commodities being handled.

“The storage shed is just about to be completed. It is also suitable for high value commodities such as copper and less than container loads. This is ideal and allows for individuals to partner and consolidate loads by putting it into one container. Upon arrival in Walvis Bay, the cargo can be unpacked, split and stored in the warehouse for collection.”

According to Mokgatle, the warehouse facility will play a big role for the dry port and allows for the diversification of existing services offered.

“This infrastructure adds to the entire range of existing infrastructure available at the port, ultimately turning Walvis Bay into a hub of logistics. The dry port can now handle all types of sensitive cargo that requires to be stored under a roof. It can also serve as a distribution centre for the manufacturing industry in the country and the region.”



Benefits

Mokgatle says the Searail Botswana Dry Port might have had its origins from an agreement between the government of Botswana and Namport, but it basically serves the rest of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), just as the Port of Walvis Bay is doing.

The facility is located within the confines of the Port of Walvis Bay and in close proximity to the quayside.

“It is in a very safe and secure environment with strict security in place for monitoring access (entry and exit). This means that the security measures in place for cargo at the Botswana Dry Port is doubled due to the facility's existing security measures. Any cargo exiting has to go through two checkpoints (gates) at the Botswana Dry Port and Namport.”

In addition, the Port of Walvis Bay is well connected to various corridors leading up to other SADC countries.

“The speed with which cargo can be brought to clients/destination is unparalleled in the region. The port is not congested compared to other ports. Turnaround times for vessels to offload cargo is much quicker. That makes this route very efficient for trade in the region and beyond. The routes leading to and from Walvis Bay are quite secure. It is the safest, most efficient and cost effective. The rates are also competitive compared to that of the region.”

Transporters and local clearing agents also benefit from the presence of the facility.

“We have leverage to negotiate with transporters with regards to transport cost. We can also consolidate cargo and therefore have the ability to attract very reasonable rates. Value added services can also be done to reduce cost for cargo owners and shippers,” said Mokgatle.

He encouraged all cargo owners in the region to take advantage of the port of Walvis Bay and the efficiencies it brings about.

“The infrastructure is there to securely stage and distribute cargo throughout the region and vice versa for export.”



Achievements

One of the biggest achievements to date was the handling of parts for the Mohembo bridge project in Botswana. The over 10 000 cubic metres of cargo comprised big, out of gauge and smaller components on pallets which arrived on a chartered vessel, that moved from the quay side, staged at the dry port and then transported to Mohembo with trucks.

The cargo was initially set to be shipped through the port of Durban.

“Close to 230 trucks were used to ferry the cargo. The immensity of the project demonstrated the capability of the dry port to handle projects of such magnitude for the region. It also enhanced the reputation of the dry port and opened up the door for bigger projects,” said Mokgatle.

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