PIT STOP ... Cross-border trucks at Walvis Bay can now make use of the temporary truck port with basic amenities which has been set up and opened on Tuesday. Photo: Adam Hartman
by Adam Hartman
A TEMPORARY port for cross-border truckers was opened at the coastal town on Tuesday to keep drivers away from the Walvis Bay community as a way of preventing the spread of the new coronavirus.
BIP Container Terminal provided the undeveloped 60 000 m2 stand in the !Narra Industrial Area on the outskirts of the town for this purpose.
The site can accommodate 120 trucks at a time.
BIP's Cedric Willemse said the facility will operate for up to three months.
The truck port will have a mobile clinic for screening and testing drivers, water and electricity, skip bins, and showers and toilets.
Selected SME food traders will serve the truckers so they do not have to travel into town. Security guards will also ensure their safety.
The truckers will be required to stay at the port for at least seven days as a quarantine measure at a cost of N$250.
Two Zambian drivers, Seteve Kanengo and Elias Tembo, told The Namibian this week the lockdown has dramatically increased the time they take to transport cargo to and from Walvis Bay.
They said while it was good to have measures in place to contain the virus, it has added about two more weeks to the seven days they took to travel from Zambia to Walvis Bay.
“Normally we would come to Walvis Bay one day, and be gone the next. Now we are stuck here for a week or more, so a decent truck port will be helpful,” said Kanengo.
Tembo said currently the trucks park where they can, and at times without water or toilets. Drivers would also walk to town to get supplies while stuck at Walvis Bay.
“If there are people at the truck port selling food and there is water and a toilet, we would not need to come into town,” he said.
Erongo governor Neville André Itope said a register of each trucker will be kept at the facility.
“This will help monitor the activity of drivers. It will also help us in instances of tracking the possible contacts they may have had in the event they are found to be infected,” Itope told The Namibian.
A Namibian trucker who went to Zambia on 19 April via Katima Mulilo tested positive for the virus and was placed in quarantine by the Zambian authorities.
Namport's acting chief executive officer, Kavin Harry, said the measures to contain the virus have had a significant negative impact on the turnaround of trucks.
“The quarantine requirements entail that trucks carrying goods across borders are not able to move as fast as they normally would. This also has an impact on the overall supply chain,” he said.
While commending truckers for their work in difficult times, Harry also applauded the collaboration of various stakeholders in establishing the truck port.
SOURCE: The Namibian