The inauguration of the new container terminal at the Port of Walvis Bay has indeed been a highlight and is an occasion which will be etched in the annals of our history books. The Namibian Ports Authority was humbled by the immense national, regional and international participation at the inauguration ceremony, held on 2 August 2019.
Subsequent to the inauguration, container operations had to be relocated from the old terminal to the new terminal and for that to be done seamlessly, container operations at the Port of Walvis Bay had to be stopped temporarily. The closure was set for a period from the 17th to the 23rd of August 2019.
Embarking on a major relocation exercise required immense planning and real-time updates, as activities change on a constant basis, and the dedicated involvement of all team members was thus imperative.
The primary objective was to operationalise the new facility within a seven day period with the main challenge being to move a total of 1,131 containers and various container handling equipment. The final task was to move five hundred (500) staff members from the old to the new container terminal.
1. PHYSICAL MOVEMENT OF EQUIPMENT
The physical equipment had to be moved from the old terminal to the new terminal and it took as long as four (4) hours to move a single piece of equipment. The main equipment which had to be moved was four (4) Mobile Harbour Cranes and four (4) Rubber
Tyred Granty (RTG) cranes and these were successfully moved over a four (4) day period and ahead of the scheduled seven (7) days shut down period.
The relocation of resources and connected activities to the new container terminal was complex and intricate and required the introduction of new technological systems and realignment of current systems. Terminal planning personnel were upskilled and the operating system was upgraded to the latest version so as to facilitate the required efficiency functionality at the new container terminal.
3. PERSONNEL TRAINING
Namport for the first time deployed four (4) Post-Panamax Ship to Shore (STS) cranes and this required training of personnel to operate the cranes. A total of 29 personnel were trained as STS operators in record time albeit at a significant cost and we are proud to announce that one of the operators of these gigantic machines is a female employee, Ms Priscilla Damases.
4. HANDLING OF THE FIRST VESSEL AT THE NEW CONTAINER TERMINAL
The first container vessel was handled at the new container terminal, "RDO Favour" on the 24th August 2019. The initial terminal performance was slower than anticipated as personnel honed their operating skills of the new equipment and application of the upgraded systems. However, subsequent thereto, a total of eighty (80) vessels have since been handled at the new container terminal and the productivity levels have shown marked increases moving up from the initial average of ten (10) berth moves per hour to the current twenty-seven (27) moves per hour.
Increase in TEU handling
There have been notable, humbling and immediate increases in container volumes handled at the new container terminal in comparison to those handled at the old terminal. While the average volumes handled each month amounted to ten thousand (10,000) Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU)’s at the old terminal, the average volumes have increased to thirteen thousand (13,000) TEU’s per month since September.
The increase in TEU’s has largely been underpinned by the very good improvements in the volumes of imports and exports destined for the hinterland markets of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Improved productivity has not gone unnoticed by shipping lines and there are very good leads for additional business through the Port of Walvis Bay.
The terminal is currently operating at 30% capacity based on the current TEU handling. This is to be expected given that the operations are still at a very infant stage and coupled with the present tough economic challenges within the country and the region. The growth in the corridor and hinterland business has however been quite encouraging and going forward this is expected to even increase further as inroads are made into new markets.
The old terminal is now being used as a multi-purpose terminal for handling both containerised and non-containerised cargo such as chemicals and various metal products.
A fortnight ago, the second consignment of 3,860 steel rails, weighing 7,500 metric tonnes was discharged at the multi-purpose terminal within a record time of seven (7) days. This was part of a consignment of 20,000 tonnes intended for the upgrading of the railway infrastructure.