Increased handling volumes despite pandemic

25 April 2021 | Infrastructure

According to the Namibian Ports Authority (Namport), cargo handling volumes increased despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The overall cargo volumes handled at both Namibian ports increased by 633 830 tonnes (11%) in comparison to the previous financial year (1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020).

The TEU’s (containerized boxes) handled over the year ended 31 March 2021 increased year-on-year by 7 338 TEU’s (5%) on the back of increased transhipment volumes.

Namport ascribed the surge of transhipment volumes to the disruption in carrier networks resulting in vessels being re-routed to the Port of Walvis Bay.

The bulk and break-bulk volumes also increased by 498 733 tonnes (14%) in comparison to the previous financial year (1 April 2019 – 30 March 2020).

The commodities which recorded the largest increases are copper, charcoal, bagged salt, fish and fish products, petroleum, wheat, vehicles, sulphur and manganese ore. Overall, we remain positive about the medium to long-term prospects of the business.

The port authority said that it anticipates the growth trajectory to remain for a while, premised on focused marketing efforts, operational efficiency enhancement and the containment of costs.

Container shortage

The shipping industry globally is experiencing a shortage of empty containers and Southern African ports have not been spared. The knock-on effect from the Covid-19 pandemic has hamstrung exports and imports of cargo worldwide.

The crisis has ascended, firstly due to a decrease in the number of available containers; secondly, because most ports were congested as the number of labourers were reduced; thirdly, due to a drop in the number of ships operating; and finally, the impact of consumer buying patterns as societies experienced rolling lockdowns and uncertainty about their employment, severely hindered the shipping liner business.

Namport said in a media statement that it continues to work closely with stakeholders in order to alleviate the shortage to the best of its abilities.

“The disruption of the empty container shortage is expected to subside as from June 2021. However, efforts to curb the shortfall of empty containers continues to hamper clients’ businesses.”

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