The //Kharas Region’s economy is based on tourism, mining, agriculture (stock farming) and fishing, most especially Lüderitz.
As has been widely reported, the lifespan of Elizabeth Bay mine has been stated to end in 2019. There are recent reports in an English daily that the proposed new port for Lüderitz is a potential threat. All these indicate a potential downturn or lack of expansion in the economic status of the town and region as a whole.
With the Elizabeth Bay mine, there is an effort to have it sold to investors who might revive this mine and make it the economic powerhouse it once was. We only hope that the construction of the planned port will be allowed.
Lüderitz, despite its strategic location and vast resources, is vastly underutilized, which goes against the facets of the Harambee Prosperity Plan, which calls for the transforming of Namibia into a logistics hub on the continent.
The current port is already saturated in terms of capacity. The railway line into the town is being rehabilitated in anticipation of increased traffic. Neckartal dam is being built in the near vicinity to increase the region’s crop production capacity, of which some of its produce can be exported.
//Kharas Region has a twinning agreement with the Northern Cape of South Africa, granting us a ready client for the use of increased cargo capacity.
All these factors bring to bear the need for a new and capable port to be constructed in Lüderitz. I have not even begun the discussion into the direct benefits of the port during its construction phase on the local economy, as well as going past that. Unemployment will be greatly reduced while providing potential future benefits for local regional entrepreneurs to participate in the benefits to be gleaned.
Other spin-offs will be allowing for more fishing companies to rather set up their processing plants in the region, instead of flocking to Walvis Bay. This will allow for more participation of locals in applications for fishing rights as the benefits can be seen at home, as opposed to the present situation where they are predominantly in another region.
There is a drive to reduce the rural urban migration in the country, but this will best be made reality by having focus on an alternative other than the present Windhoek or Walvis Bay
I do not wish to detract from these towns but the region holds vast potential, which can truly be harnessed by increased logistics capacity, which in turn can be spearheaded by the construction of the said port.
I therefore call on all stakeholders to approach the matter with cooler heads, assess all the pros and cons, and find a viable solution that maintains the environmental integrity of the location as much as possible, while thrusting the development of Lüderitz and //Kharas Region at a welcomed pace.
* Jan Scholtz is the constituency councillor of !Nami#nus.