Namport rail connection on the edge

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Following the completion the N$480million rehabilitation of the Aus/Lüderitz railway line, conceited efforts are underway for Namport to begin the rail connection into the Luderitz ports, a development which will change southern Namibia.

The layer works and the interlock paving at the Haven Street level crossing have been completed together with a second level crossing at the Kapps Hotel intersection in Lüderitz.

For a project that has been stalling over the past 15 years, the completion of the railway connection sums up the Lüderitz harbour upgrades which started in 1998 whose intention was decided to rehabilitate the railway to make full use of the new facilities at the harbour.

The harbour and railway line will help to develop the southern part of Namibia, and will benefit the fishing and mining industries as well as agricultural projects.

It is also intended to distribute petroleum products to the southern regions of Namibia through the Lüderitz harbour and the upgraded railway link. A number of South African and local mining groups and fruit producers have expressed interest in using Lüderitz as port of export.

Max Kooper, the Port Manager of Port of Luderitz says the main focus is now to connect the port by rail before the end of the year, in order to increase cargo volumes.

“We have a distinct drop in ship calls per annum. Currently we are receiving just over 900 ship calls per annum compared to 1350 previously. However the good news is that the ship size has increased. We are receiving bigger and longer vessels calling the port. Once we connect the rail, the cargo volumes will definitely increase,” he says.

In 2012 the cargo handled at Namport was 346 000 tonnes per annum. That figure is now 432 000 tonnes because Rosh Pinah Zinc Cooperation added an extra 120 000 tonnes.

Skorpion Zinc has decreased by 15 000 tonnes in exports from 119 000 tonnes per annum because the amount of zinc being processed has reduced to 95 000 tonnes. Sulphur has increased from 70 000 tonnes to 90 000 tonnes because of the mounting waste.

“The manganese and iron ore from the Northern Cape is waiting for the rail. We are hoping for a twinning agreement between the Northern Cape Province and the Karas Region for port business development. EBH (Namdock) is considering investing in ship repair facilities in Luderitz which will benefit the fishing industry and recreate employment. In addition, Corridor Gas is in the process of setting 4000 tonnes of LPG facilities to supply Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

However, Luderitz’s location complicates engineering works, because it is far supplies.

It is in a corner and is a small town which is 300km far from the next town, Keetmanshoop, a town that is not well-equipped in terms of material.

Luderitz is very rocky, every an engineer’s nightmare, especially considering that sand has to come from Windhoek because the one in the South has a high sulphur concentrate, and even the stones has to come from Keetmanshoop.

With a rail line into the harbour, Namibia will have an alternate supply base for fuel imports into the country. Currently all Namibia’s fuel is being imported via Walvis Bay, and the establishment of fuel facilities at the Port of Lüderitz will put the region on the map and ease pressure on the port of Walvis Bay and possibly become a supply point for countries such as Botswana and the Northern Cape.

Namport has earmarked 6000m2 land for this development next to the current storage facility. This will reduce the transport cost of fuel to the Southern part of Namibia. This will also strengthen the position of Namibia, as it will allow an additional entry point for fuel for the country. It holds opportunity and economic benefit for the Namibian economy.

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