Unlocking trade potential

The Botswana Dry Port facility was established to facilitate and to fast-track import and export activities.

28 January 2020 | Infrastructure

Derick Mokgatle; Dry Port Manager; “Our objective is to create opportunities, enhance the existing industry and increase capacity and productivity...”

The Botswana Dry Port facility in Walvis Bay has been growing steadily since inception.

It was opened in 2015 after an agreement was reached between Botswana and Namibia port authorities in 2009. The latest addition to the Sea Rail-managed Botswana Dry Port facility is a fully plugged-in point reefer station which was commissioned in December last year.

This move is in line with the dry port’s vision of being a one-stop shop for all users, says facility manager Derick Mokgatle.

“It formed part of an electrical project and was coupled with the installation of mast light towers to further enhance the overall security aspect of the facility. The station, with 48 plug in points, cost N$3.5 million to construct and can accommodate 12m reefers normally used by the industry,” Mokgatle explained.

Reefer containers are used to transport temperature-controlled cargoes such as fruit, meat, fish, seafood, vegetables and dairy.

Mokgatle dispelled the notion that the Botswana-driven initiative is taking away business from local companies at the harbour town.

“Quite contrary. Namport, Botswana, Namibian truckers and companies are benefiting from the dry port. Our objective is to create opportunities, enhance the existing industry, increase capacity and productivity and the service delivery aspect within the supply chain.”

He says the delivery of material for the construction of a bridge in Botswana via the Port of Walvis Bay which occurred last year, serves as a good example. “An estimated 200 trucks were used to transport a consignment of 10 720 metric tonnes of Mohembo Bridge project cargo from the Botswana dry port via the Okavango to Botswana. Local industry players such as Namport and various transporters benefited and were allocated the biggest part of the budget for this particular project.”

‘Concerted efforts’

He said that concerted efforts are being made to secure an increase of project cargo from Botswana for export and import, via the dry port and the Port of Walvis Bay to and from the rest of the world.

“For example, we are exploring the possibility of transporting fuel from Walvis Bay to Botswana. Our facility is for the benefit of SADC and open for use by all member states. It is an investment by the government of Botswana to provide businesses with an alternative and viable port to that being offered by South Africa.”

Mokgatle emphasised that the Botswana Dry Port facility in Walvis Bay is regarded as a strategic infrastructure long-term project with the aim of creating an alternative route to less congested sea ports on the Atlantic coast.

“It also seeks to increased access to international markets especially Europe and Americas, by having a dedicated port ground on the Atlantic Ocean for imports and exports.”

Sea Rail, the company that manages the dry port, took over a piece of barren land located next to the Port of Walvis Bay and spent an estimated N$50 million on the construction of the dry port facility there.

Safe, secure, reliable

The all-paved facility is safe, secure and reliable in addition to offering reduced trucking costs and transit times coupled with competitive handling fees, market related rates and storage.

“In fact, it is far better when compared to many existing facilities. It is fully operational and equipped to handle both break-bulk and containerised cargo. It is a bonded facility offering container and break-bulk handling, RoRo vehicle storage, cartage, freight forwarding, packing and unpacking of containers, documentation and project cargo handling and storage,” Mokgatle explained.

Future projects to the value of an estimated N$10 million are still under wraps and form part of the facility’s master plan.

This plan has the purpose to ensure that the facility which is currently utilised between 20% and 30%, becomes fully utilised.

A tender was already awarded to cover the 3 000m² warehouse with a roof. The construction process could take 6 months, with the due date and commissioning of the commercial storage warehouse set for July 2020.

With its 300 parking bays, the 36 200 m² Botswana Dry Port can handle 4 800 cars annually. The facility offers general housing as well as the potential to develop specialised warehousing that handle a combined 80 000 tonnes.

It also accommodates a container handling facility which handles 17 000 TEUs every year and is designed for a cold storage facility with the potential to handle up to 10 000 tonnes every year.

Namibia entered into agreements with Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe to avail a portion of land at the Port of Walvis Bay to these land-locked countries to enable them to conduct sea-borne trade.

For any information visit www.searail.com or send an email to [email protected]

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