THE Namibian Ports Authority will keep the port of Walvis Bay open despite the reintroduction of strict lockdown measures by the country’s government on Thursday to ensure local trade and that of its landlocked neighbours in the Southern African Development Community continues.
The port of Walvis Bay has remained open for business throughout the hard lockdown introduced locally and around the globe during March this year to keep supply lines open.
Although the port is small in comparison to other major harbours on the Atlantic seaboard, the quick turn-around times achieved with vessels docked at the new container terminal and its relative closeness to markets in the Americas and Europe has made it one of the most competitive ports on the West African coast.
President Hage Geingob during a virtual summit with other African Heads of State earlier in May said the COVID-19 pandemic has brought interdependency of Namibia and its neighbours into the limelight.
“Namibia will continue to keep ports and harbours open in order to facilitate the movement of goods to landlocked neighbours and beyond,” Dr. Geingob assured his counterparts.
Strict lockdown measures resulted in the closure of several of the major harbours in the southern African region. Staged lifting of these measures also resulted in congestion at the major harbours.
All the major shipping lines chose Walvis Bay as an alternative port to discharge and take on cargo which strengthened the Namibian Ports Authority’s position in the global logistics market and resulted in the recent upgrade by Fitch Ratings for a third consecutive year.
Another golden opportunity presented itself when cruise line companies approached the Namibian Ports Authority with an urgent request to dry stack idle passenger ships taking up costly mooring space in other ports around the globe.
The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting collapse of cruise tourism because of worldwide restrictions on travel has left all passenger cruise liners stuck in ports.
Kavin Harry, the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Namibian Ports Authority said whereas the situation is unfortunate for the cruise line industry, the turn of events presented an opportunity to Namport to boost its revenue by providing berthing and parking space for the empty cruise ships.