Walvis Bay dry port strategic in boosting regional trade

Nqobile Bhebhe, [email protected]

ZIMBABWE’s Walvis Bay dry port in Namibia, which is now operating at above 50 percent, is envisaged to play a pivotal role in facilitating trade in the region and local industry is urged to utilise the facility, National Handling Services chief executive officer Mr Godknows Marawanyika has said.

The dry port was commissioned by President Mnangagwa in 2019 as part of the Government’s drive to stimulate economic growth by expanding Zimbabwe’s access to the international markets to boost international trade and grow the economy.

The dry port was developed on land that was donated to the Government of Zimbabwe by the Namibian government.

Zimbabwe’s Walvis Bay dry port provides a strategic gateway to the Atlantic Ocean and easier access to markets in North and South America, West Africa and Europe.

The road across Botswana and Namibia is a high-end modern highway.

The dry port gives Zimbabwean traders the scope to import and export directly to and from these markets.

Speaking to Business Chronicle on the sidelines of the NHS 2024 strategic meeting in Bulawayo last week, Mr Marawanyika said the dry port is strategic in boosting regional trade.

He said NHS is on a diversification drive and is considering the establishment of a logistics company with feasibility studies currently underway.

“It’s another exciting proposition that we have as we have realised that opportunities abound in the logistics business and we want to fill in that gap.

“This resonates with the Zimbabwe Dry port that we are running in Walvis Bay, Namibia,” he noted.

“We have seen it being operationalised and is now operating at over 50 percent. We are really focusing on making sure that the dry port succeeds.

“In order to complement the dry port, we must also have services in Zimbabwe to complement the Walvis Bay dry port. We are thankful to the Government for the initiative which will drive trade between the Americas, Europe and our neighbouring counties.

“It’s a huge project to assist businesses grow.”

The Zimbabwean dry port at Walvis Bay was built on land straddling about 19 000 square metres on land leased to Zimbabwe by Namibia for 50 years.

NHS is the mainstay of the ground-handling industry in Zimbabwe and specialises in passenger and aircraft handling, cargo handling and storage, ramp handling, lounges services and shrink wrapping services.

The company has an array of ground support equipment that can handle any type of aircraft up to A380.

Transport and Infrastructural Development director for strategic policy planning and NHS board member, Mr Allowance Sango said NHS has an integral role in the development and growth of the aviation sector in Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabwe is on a trajectory for developing infrastructure of airports countrywide. So NHS being the primary handler of cargo in the airport, it has as significant role to play,” he said.

He added that NHS has been investing millions of dollars in retooling and in the upcoming 2024 national budget,” there is a very big budget of outstanding equipment that is expected to be delivered.

“To increase airport patronage from two million passengers to six million, the handling capacity in terms of space, baggage handling capacity and bigger aircraft, we must have equipment commensurate with what we expect.

“This is the focus that we have for NHS so that we do not leave any sub-sector of the aviation industry behind. We want a complete service to avoid the modernised facilities ending up being white elephants.”

To ensure that facilities are not white elephants, Mr Sango said with partnership with a financial institution, massive investments have been made at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport coming with a state-of-the-art lounge.

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