Port users appreciated
The Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) hosted its annual port users’ event, which showcases appreciation and gratitude towards each port user for their continued support and patronage at the port of Walvis Bay.
Namport chief executive Andrew Kanime said that for the next five years the institution will be focusing on four key strategic themes namely building institutional capacity, driving operational efficiencies, enhancing customer and stakeholder value as well as optimizing sustainable growth. “We are aware of the current challenges that we have been facing on turnaround times; this has largely been attributable to the need to upskill ourselves, realign our culture and invest in additional and new cargo handling equipment.”
In terms of equipment and systems, over the period 2014 to 2019, Namport has invested the bulk of its financial resources into the watershed project of the new container terminal. “This created a gap in the investments towards cargo handling equipment, especially yard equipment and we are now bearing the brunt of this. The depressed economic environment and constrained financial resources have not allowed us to roll out these acquisitions as quickly as we would have wanted to. In the meantime, we have been burdened with equipment breakdowns and shortages.”
Kanime said that while there are still significant competing financial demands, Namport took a decision to replace its cargo handling equipment and will do this gradually starting with those areas where the requirements are more precarious. Presently, the purchase of new reach stackers, rubber tyre gantry cranes, forklifts, wharf cranes, spreaders, docking blocks and cradle wheels for the Syncrolift are at various stages of procurement.
Furthermore, Namport is automating many of its current processes. “The first phase that will migrate the physical orders we presently receive and process through the customer care desks to a virtual environment, is already undergoing trial testing ahead of full implementation. Thereafter, we will continue with other phases covering amongst others the cargo gating processes and truck bookings.”
Namport has been appointed as the implementing agency for the National Single Window and upon implementation, this will see the integration of all role players in the logistics industry so that the end-to-end processes are migrated to a paperless environment. “The process of securing a partner for the National Single Window is currently in progress. We are also rolling out a new terminal operating system for general cargo and the Syncrolift and this will go a long way in streamlining the paper-based processes and enhancing the timeliness of our billing.”
Kanime stated that as part of their roadmap toward sustainability, various public private partnerships are being pursued in the rollout of critical infrastructure and facilities. “This will provide external capital for the upgrade and expansion of amongst others, warehouses and other cargo handling facilities whilst allowing Namport to focus on other much needed investments in equipment, systems and other common user core infrastructure.”
Some of the PPP initiatives being considered or in the process of implementation are: the development of the common user manganese export terminal at the Port of Lüderitz; the development of the common user bulk terminal at the Port of Walvis Bay; the possible concessioning of the Walvis Bay New Container Terminal; construction and operation of the LPG and LNG terminals at North Port in Walvis Bay; and green hydrogen production and export from both North Port and the Port of Lüderitz.
Amidst the turmoil in the shipping industry, global shipping lines are going to declare combined profits in excess of approximately N$200 billion. “The implication of that is importers and exporters and ultimately the consumers, are paying more, and this speaks to sustainability. The short-term prospects remain tough, and we must all continue striving towards supporting our customers across all industries that they remain in business for all our sustainability. Indications are that the current equipment shortages will subsist well into 2023 and possibly 2024.”
An unprecedented challenged that now remains is the shortage of ships and containers. “Our latest test is to think out of the box and sustain these volumes amidst the storm. I am encouraged by the resilience, the collaboration and resourcefulness that we have seen. For example, we have seen customers resorting to exporting copper in bulk which was previously unheard of.”
On a positive note, Namport has seen increases in the volumes handled at the port year on year, albeit marginal. Total TEUs have increased by 2% while bulk and break-bulk volumes have increased by 10%.
Several port users received certificates of appreciation. The top five revenue-based clients are Logistics Support Services, Maersk Namibia, Woker Freight Services, Sturrock Grindrod, Maritime Namibia and Trade Ocean Shipping Namibia. The top five volume-based clients are Puma Energy Namibia, Walvis Bay Salt Refiners, Engen Namibia, Walvis Bay Bulk Terminal and Sturrock Grindrod Maritime Namibia. The top three SME revenue-based clients are XYZ Investment CC, Dunes Investment CC and Faida Trading and Clearing CC.
The industry contribution recognition award was given to Willie Prosser, the managing director of Novaship Namibia as well as the chairman of the Walvis Bay Port Users Association.