By Rodney Pienaar
WINDHOEK, 08 OCT (NAMPA) - Namport handled 5 561 999 tonnes of cargo during the 2018/19 financial year ended March 2020, compared to 5 796 292 tonnes recorded the previous financial year, representing a 4 per cent decrease in cargo handling due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In an interview with Nampa on Wednesday, Namibia Ports Authority (Namport) Commercial Executive Tino Hanabeb said volumes in terms of trade have not slowed down. However, border lockdowns and new regulations put in place by various governments affected delivery outcome of imports and exports.
"Since the initial declaration of the state of emergency by the president of Namibia in March, we as Namport had to adopt a modified workplan. The COVID-19 compliance office was established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Walvis Bay before the first lockdown of Walvis Bay took place", Hanabeb said.
He added that critical items were supplied to all employees for their health and safety to ensure unhindered operational business continuity. Sanitisers, thermal scanners, face masks and anti-bacterial soaps were set up at strategic entry and exit points of main areas throughout the port, and an intensive awareness campaign was established and the ports were heavily branded with COVID-19 compliance notices throughout.
About 80 per cent of all administrative staff had to operate from their respective homes, and Namport had to first ensure that all required resources such as information communication technology which included the deployment of temporary 4G devices had to be provided for all home-based employees.
"We further installed necessary software on all laptops of those who would operate from home to ensure business continuity from the safety of their homes. Due to the restrictions on face-to-face meetings, Namport opted for online meeting platforms and this is still ongoing. Staff members from the operational side were fortunately deemed to be part of essential services, however the number of staff members per shift had to be reduced, meaning we had to re-look our shift patterns", Hanabeb said.
He added that this was primarily done so that staff members would not suffer from fatigue due to long working hours as some of the colleagues had to be under self-isolation due to potential exposure to the virus.