Lüderitz: Ideal Southern African Port

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By Dr Moses Amweelo We are all aware of Namport as a key player in the economic development of our country and the promotion of foreign trade, making our two ports of Walvis Bay and LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz the preferred links for sea-borne trade with Namibia and the Walvis Bay corridor destination countries. The Port of LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz meets the demands of a range of modern industries and provides port facilities for the northern Cape Region of South Africa, strengthening the concept of the ports of Namibia acting as gateways for the Southern Africa region. The development of the port of LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz is focused on creating additional post-infrastructure mainly for local demands of the fishing and offshore diamond industries, the offshore oil exploration requirements and the possibility of supporting emerging mining activities in the area. The construction of the new 500 meter quay structure was a joint venture between E Phil & Son of Denmark and Stock & Stocks Namibia. With the new quay complete, the port of LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz is now able to cater for medium-sized feeder vessels to take cargo to and from LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz. This new development is also timed to coincide with the anticipated new mining activities in southern Namibia and with direct fuel imports. This new quay has a draft of 8.15 meters and can accommodate vessels up to 150 meters in length. All facilities including bunkering are available at the quay. There are also additional fuel facilities, and a new multipurpose shed. The establishment of this new quay brings in line the realization of the plans of Namport to develop the port of LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz as the gateway to southern Namibia. Major import and export businesses can be attracted with this new facility which in turn will help to uplift the economy of the town of LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz, and indeed the entire southern region of Namibia. Aus-LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz Railway Line The Government of the Republic of Namibia is in the process of upgrading and improving the railway line between Aus and LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz in the Karas Region. The total length of this section of railway line is approximately 139 kilometers. The Aus- LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz railway line was constructed in 1906 and has now deteriorated to such an extent that safe rail traffic could no longer be guaranteed, and as a result all rail operations on this line have come to a virtual standstill. Since 1997, the line was de-commissioned and in many areas the desert has encroached onto the railway line. In the interim the harbour of LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz has been upgraded and in 1998 it was decided to rehabilitate the railway line to utilize the new harbour facilities. The rehabilitated harbour and railway line will serve the southern part of Namibia, the local inhabitants, fishing and mining industry as well as the agricultural projects of the Karas Region. It is also intended to distribute petroleum products to the southern regions of Namibia through the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz harbour and the upgraded rail link. It is therefore against the above-mentioned background that in the year 2002 a Namibian firm of consulting engineers, Messrs Kleber & Associates, was appointed by the Government of the Republic of Namibia to carry out the design and the supervision of construction for the entire rehabilitation of the Aus-LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz railway line, being the: – Construction of earthworks; – Permanent way construction; – Erection of drainage and supporting structures; – Procurement of rails and sleepers; – Sales of redundant rails and sleepers through public tender for both phase one and phase two of the project. In addition to the construction works between Aus and LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz, ballast stone is crushed at the dolerite source near Keetmanshoop. Recently a number of South African mining groups, fruit producers, as well as local mines and fruit enterprises have expressed great interest in utilizing LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz as a point of export, thus generating potential revenue for Namibia. The rehabilitated railway line between Aus and LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz is therefore of utmost importance for this purpose. At present 150,000 tons of zinc ore are exported and 60,000 tons of sulphur is imported through the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz harbour. After completion of the rail link it is expected that 115 000 tons of fruit and 510,000 tons of ore from Namibia and the Northern Cape will be transported through the port of LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz for export. In addition to the transportation of goods, the rehabilitated railway line will certainly give a boost to the tourist industry of the southern region of Namibia. The urgent task of the Government in the rehabilitation of the Aus- LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz railway line is to upgrade the track work from the existing 11.5-ton axle load to accommodate 18.5-ton axle loads. For this task, the existing rails and sleepers need to be removed and the formation to be improved by constructing new earthworks embankments in order for the line to be able to carry safely the increased loads. The rehabilitation of this will also include improvements to sharp radius bends and steep sections. To upgrade the permanent way of this line, the existing 20 and 30 kilogram/per meter rails need to be replaced by 40 or 48 kilogram/meter rails. It was therefore decided to carry out the whole project in two phases. Phase one of the project is the section between Aus station and the existing rail kilometer 255, some 10km east of Haalenberg. The total length of this section is 74km. Phase two of the project is the section between existing rail kilometer 255 and LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz station. The total length of this section is 65 km. It is envisaged to construct the track work at certain sections, with steep grades and tight curves and at the places where shifting sand and sand dunes are present, with an advanced method of track construction called a ballastless continuous beam-track system with the formation. This allows that existing 30 kg/m rails can be re-used at these sections. In August 2001 the Roads Contractor Company was awarded the tender for the construction of the earthworks contract of phase 1 of the project and in December 2002 the contract for the supply of ballast stone for both phases was also awarded to RCC. Both contracts were scheduled for a construction period of 24 months each. I am pleased with the progress made by Namport over the past few years, the private sector partners, as well as the Government in this undertaking. To the local community I would like to say this is an important milestone in the history of LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz harbour and this is a very important achievement for our nation and our region. It is imminent that future growth and development through new economic activities will emerge prominently in providing further job opportunities. That is why we must maintain industrial peace and stability. A port’s image, once established, is difficult to change, so we must pay increased attention to all port services and render them professionally, with genuine Namibian courtesy and hospitality. The challenge before us is to transform the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz harbour into a vehicle that transports the imports and exports into opportunities that will develop the regional economies into wealth and innovation.