By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) this week opened an office in Lusaka to promote the usage of the Walvis Bay Corridor as the leading trade route for imports and exports into and from the southern African region. The group says the opening of its regional branch office in Zambia is proof that it is going to great lengths to create awareness of the alternative trade route through the Walvis Bay Corridor using the port of Walvis Bay. Following the successful development of the Trans-Kalahari route into the southern African industrial hub of Gauteng, the group has over the years engaged in expanding its operations in the Trans-Caprivi Corridor, which constitutes the second leg of Namibia’s drive to market itself internationally as an alternative route for goods destined for the Americas and Europe. The opening of the bridge across the Zambezi River connecting Zambia and Namibia has provided new opportunities for exports and imports through Walvis Bay port. What was needed however, according to the corridor group, was to initiate a concrete marketing and development programme and representation close to the market in Lusaka, which would act as an extension of central WBCG operations in Windhoek. With this development, the corridor group has also managed to secure the move of customs operations from Livingstone to Katima Mulilo, allowing for easier and smoother customs operations and faster transport along the Trans-Caprivi route. In addition to this, the WBCG is also moving to introduce the Single Administrative Document for the Trans-Caprivi Corridor. The SAD has been successfully tried and tested on the Trans-Kalahari route Speaking at the opening of the office, Namibian High Commissioner to Zambia, Major-General Martin Shalli, said the building of trade bridges and routes such as the Walvis Bay Ndola-Lubumbashi Corridor remained essential in the promotion of trade, commerce and the movement of people and goods and services. Shalli said Africa could only prosper through increased trade but only if trade and trade rules are fair and the playing field is level. “As Africans we must find solutions to our problems and as we strive to achieve that, we should never lose sight of the fact that our collectiveness and membership of the international community greatly enhances our reputation around the world and brings unison and dimension to our global interests,” he said. This development comes slightly a month after the group established the Trans-Kalahari Express, a transport modal route that will provide the speed and reliability required by the shippers to the European and North and South American markets. The ultimate goal of the express is to capitalise on the location of the WBCG to build state-of-the-art transport and logistics systems 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.