Walvis Dry Port records improving volumes

Revamped: The Dry Port’s new developments are attracting more traffic PIC: SEA RAIL
Revamped: The Dry Port’s new developments are attracting more traffic PIC: SEA RAIL

Traffic volumes at Botswana’s Walvis Bay Dry Port are gaining traction, as the P40 million facility shrugs off the white elephant status that has haunted it since its establishment seven years ago.

The Dry Port facility, which is adjacent to the Namibian port, is operated by Sea Rail, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Botswana Railways.

Since its establishment, the Dry Port has struggled to attract local exports and imports, with former Botswana Railways CEO, Leonard Makwinja previously saying the 600 kilometres between the Charleshill border and Walvis Bay was proving too costly for local companies.

However, recently, acting Managing Director of Sea Rail, Derick Mokgatle told BusinessWeek that the addition of a reefer station and an under-roof shed had propped up interest from clients across the region. Customers coming out of South Africa are increasingly using the reefer station as a staging facility for their reefer container imports into the Zambian and DRC market, he said.

Reefer stations are warehouses containing bulk refrigeration facilities for housing perishable goods such as food and medicines.

“We have been receiving a lot of inquiries from businesses that normally utilise other regional ports and they are showing interest in utilising our facilities,” Mokgatle said. “Currently, we are expecting a vessel with 20,000 tonnes of break-bulk sugar that Sea Rail will be in charge of discharging and warehousing later, for distribution in the region. “This will be yet another milestone for Sea Rail after the Mohembo Bridge project that was handled two years back.”

The Dry Port’s vehicle imports have also witnessed an increase in volumes, registering 2,147 vehicles as at March 2021, or 53% above the numbers as at March 2020. Container volumes fell over the same period, however, with Mokgatle explaining that this was caused by the disruption in supply chains globally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The disruption in global supply chains had caused a shortage of containers at the Port of Walvis Bay.

“The Dry Port lost volumes of container exports that were normally shipped to overseas markets,” he said.

However, Mokgatle said Sea Rail expects container volumes to pick up again this year, urging clients to ship bulk and breakbulk as well as to unpack their containers where possible at the Dry Port for their imports going into Botswana and the region.

“The Trans-Kalahari corridor is maturing now through the addition of copper exports on the route bringing about a balance in imports and exports. “This brings reduced transport costs that are very competitive to attract more volumes for the corridor,” he said.

Upcoming and expanding mines such as Khoemacau Copper and Sandfire’s Motheo, are expected to channel their production through Walvis Bay as they are located on the Kalahari Copperbelt in the west. Khoemacau is due for full production later this year, while Motheo is due to come on stream next year.

Editor's Comment
Happy Independence!

We are 56 years old and what do we have to show for it? Looking at where Botswana started and where it is today, there are a lot of developments, but whether the developments match the number of years we have enjoyed as a country is a topic for another day.The fact that cannot be denied is we have seen major developments, but we are still lacking in several pertinent areas.Our beautiful country imports almost everything. We import fuel, food,...

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