One-of-a-kind operators

25 Oct 2019

One-of-a-kind operators

Priscilla Damases is currently the only Namibian woman trained to operate a ship-to-shore crane.
Priscilla Damases



The Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) recently added another milestone to its company profile after 33 employees were trained to operate ship-to-shore (STS) cranes.

Four STS cranes were acquired at N$440 million to enhance efficiency at the new container terminal built on reclaimed land. With these cranes, vessels calling at the port now have a faster turnaround time.

Another remarkable milestone is that only one woman graduated as a STS crane operator, making her the first in the country.

Priscilla Damases (31) started out as a forklift driver at Namport in 2014, and was encouraged by her peers to apply to be part of the STS crane operator training.

“I just wanted to show the ladies that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Never underestimate yourself as a woman. I am really proud of myself,” she says.

Not only was the only woman, she also graduated top of her class.

“Opportunities for women to operate machines such as these rarely happen, but as soon as it comes you need to grab it with both hands. Let me serve as an encouragement to other women that they can also do it.”

She started her journey at Namport in 2014, when she applied to be trained as a forklift driver.

Damases was born in Windhoek and completed her schooling at Otjiwarongo. “After school I came back to Windhoek, and while I was there I received the call from Namport. Before that I was doing odd jobs, working in shops. I can honestly say it was truly through God’s will that all this made possible.”

Her next target is to be trained as tugboat pilot. “This will only happen through hard work and determination.”

“As a woman there is nothing standing in your way of reaching your goals. Nothing can stop you; you can get anything you want in life but you need to fight for it and make sure it happens,” she says.

At the graduation ceremony, chief executive officer Kavin Harry said Namport had invested over N$9 million in the training.

“This included the rental of the simulator used during training before the trainees were exposed to the training on the actual cranes. This was a worthwhile investment that has started bearing returns within two months of commissioning.

“With these improved and efficient productivity levels at the port, this has resulted in shorter turnaround times of vessels calling at the port. We are beginning to receive positive feedback on our improved efficiencies and turnaround times from our port users, in particular the shipping lines.

“While it is definitely too early to celebrate these positive developments, the feedback is very encouraging and we hope to sustain and build on this momentum.”

Harry said with the help of the STS cranes, Namport has achieved 26 recorded moves per hour so far.

“We envisage increasing from 26 to 30 moves per hour in the not too distant future.”

SOURCE: Namibian Sun


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