Dry Port Envisaged for Gobabis

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK An inland container depot, or Dry dock, is likely to be established at Gobabis once the volume of cargo on the Trans Kalahari Corridor increases. The envisaged development of a dry port will form part of the Trans Kalahari Express, a multi modal transport system between Gaborone, Botswana and Gauteng, South Africa to the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia. Although construction would only take place when there is sufficient volumes of cargo to justify its establishment, the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) says it will make economic sense to have another port from which cargo is trans-shipped from Walvis Bay to Windhoek, Gauteng and vice versa. It is foreseen that the corridor will have so many containers being transported through the route and if the volume reaches 30 000, there would be a need for a second dry port, but this time closer to the border between Namibia and Botswana. Briefing the press on the signing of a memorandum of understanding between WBCG and Grindrod, a logistics management company that will establish, operate and manage the Trans Kalahari Express, WBCG Chairperson Sebby Kankondi said the port would have to be justified by the cargo volumes. Brian Black, Transna-mib’s General Manager: Marketing and Sales said once the volumes increase, Transnamib has a vested interest in establishing a dry port like the one in Windhoek The low volume of rail transport between Windhoek and Gobabis would make the venture even more profitable, he said. This would boost economic growth in Gobabis as there would now be people operating forwarding companies, while other developments may also occur. To make it viable, there would be a need for 10 000 containers in the first year alone. But as the need for other services arises, there would also be a need to look at improving the rail infrastructure. The express would offer importers and exporters of goods in Gauteng and Gaborone an alternative port to that of Durban in South Africa, by reducing transit times by more than four days. The corridor has been largely utilized regionally, something the corridor group wants to change to attract international trade from Europe and USA. Grindrod will market the corridor and ensure that Namibia becomes an alternative to South African ports. The corridor group and transport providers have been cooperating and have now committed themselves to developing a coordinated system, which will provide the speed and reliability required by the shippers to the European and North and South American markets. The ultimate goal is to capitalise on the location of the WBCG to build a state-of-the-art transport and logistics system capable of a two-day premium service to and from Gauteng and Gaborone and a three to four-day standard service from ship’s call. Last week, the WBCG and its logistics partner Grindrod signed a memorandum of understanding, which would see the logistics company develop the corridor, a freight route between Walvis Bay, Botswana and South Africa. Frank Gschwender, Business Development Executive of WBCG said since the corridor opened in 1998, it has not been utilised commercially because there was an increase in volumes only at regional level. The move to utilise the Walvis Bay port more may not come overnight, according to Grindrod’s Reinhart Kusters, because the operators will have to deal with mindsets of the users. “They will have to understand that there is an alternative and they do not have to contend with congestion,” said Kusters. The two signed an MOU last week in Johannesburg, which will see Grindrod harnessing services of shipping lines, NamPort, Transnamib, road hauliers and clearing and forwarding agents.