HISTORY was made on Friday morning when the largest container vessel ever, successfully docked at the new container terminal in the port of Walvis Bay.
When the Maersk Sheerness docked Walvis Bay, a new milestone in attaining the status of the port of choice for countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was also reached.
The ship, with a length of 335.41 metres, beam of 43.16 metres and a container capacity of 7500 twenty foot equivalent unit (TEU) was brought into the port as a test.
Kavin Harry, the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Namibian Ports Authority, said the investment made in the construction of the new container terminal is slowly starting to pay off and the arrival of the Maersk Sheerness is opening a new chapter in logistics handling capabilities of the port.
It also opens up new opportunities for the logistics industry in Namibia.
“The arrival of this vessel is of great significance, not only for Namport, but for the entire country, as this is not only consistent with our values and drive to becoming Africa’s Number One Port Authority but also places Namibia in a more competitive position as it now can accommodate bigger vessels,” he said.
According to Harry, the shipping industry has over the past few months adopted a new modus operandi of using bigger vessels as opposed to multiple small vessels to transport cargo.
He added that the consistent drop in fuel prices was one of the biggest driving forces behind the paradigm shift.
He also said a another remarkable shift is the fact that large companies such as Maersk are forming partnerships with their rivals to move more ‘boxes’ in order to save costs.
“For us as a ports authority, that is good news because that means we will handle larger volumes which in the end, will show on our bottom line,” he said.
Immanuel !Hanabeb, Namport’s Executive: Commercial, said the shift in the focus of the shipping industry is aimed at saving operational costs and consolidation of resources.
“In addition, a milestone of this nature shows the significance of Namport’s investment into the future by equipping and preparing its staff members with the required skills for similar jobs ahead of time,” !Hanabeb said.
!Hanabeb said plans to bring Maersk Sheerness started mid last year and it is indeed a historic achievement which is worthy of celebration.
For the ports authority to be able to compete with other ports, Namport last year officially inaugurated its state of the art New Container Terminal valued at N$4 billion and it is due to this that the country is now in a position to accommodate such large vessels.