Southern Africa's transport corridors get moving

TWO logistics announcements in recent days highlight the amount of effort being put into expanding and improving the rail and port transport corridors in southern Africa.
Southern Africa's transport corridors get moving Southern Africa's transport corridors get moving Southern Africa's transport corridors get moving Southern Africa's transport corridors get moving Southern Africa's transport corridors get moving

The SADC Gateway port at Walvis Bay

Staff Reporter

The Namibian Port Authority announced the first phase of construction of the new port north of Walvis Bay would start in 2015, one year earlier than originally planned. The Walvis Bay Port Gateway Terminal is one of the key infrastructure projects in Namibia’s Fourth National Development Plan.

The existing Walvis Bay port is one of the largest on the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) west coast. According to ratings agency Moody’s, port traffic has increased owing to the rapid growth in neighbouring countries, resulting in higher mineral exports and rising demand for imported intermediary and consumer goods.

Phase 1 of the SADC Gateway Terminal at Walvis Bay involves the construction of a tanker jetty able to host two 60,000t tankers. It also includes new petroleum pipelines and an oil storage facility.

This phase will increase the capacity for supply of fuel for mining operations in the country.

It is phase three which is focused on the export of bulk commodities. It has previously been tipped to come on stream beyond 2020 and would be a terminal focussed on the export of product from the relatively untapped Mmamabula coal fields in landlocked Botswana. The five berths would be able to handle 65Mt/y of coal and be linked to Botswana via the Trans-Kalahari Railway line.

Two weeks ago the governments of Namibia and Botswana launched a tender for construction of the Trans-Kalahari Railway project, with the target date for a feasibility study to be concluded by the end of the year.

“The Namibian government will finance the first phase of the expansion, while seeking private financing for the following phases of development,” Moody’s said.

The African Development Bank and World Bank are also financing part of the project.

In March, the governments of Botswana and Namibia agreed to build a 1500km heavy-haul railway line, linking the coal fields to the port. This Trans-Kalahari Railway project will cost an estimated $US9.2 billion to develop.

Meanwhile, in South Africa this week, state-owned rail and freight group, Transnet officially launched its joint operating centre (JOC) to coordinate freight transport on the Maputo Corridor, which runs between Mpumalanga Province through Swaziland and to the port of Maputo in Mozambique.

The JOC houses representatives from all four partners under one roof, including the Mozambique rail and port operators and Swaziland Railway.

Significant efficiency gains have already been achieved in the first year of operations, include a 24% reduction in dwell time at Komatipoort and 57% reduction at the ports in Maputo. As a result Transnet Freight Rail’s volumes to Mozambique grew from 2.6Mt to 4.5Mt in the period.

Magnetite exports through Maputo increased from an average of 10 trains per week to an average of 18 trains per week. Turnaround time for Maputo magnetite was reduced by 47% from 118hrs to 62hrs.

According to a statement, double-digit percentage growth is expected at the Maputo Ports over the next three years.

Transnet said it was also looking at similar initiatives to co-ordinate tactical and operational functional responsibilities across borders on the North-South Corridor (Zimbabwe, Zambia, DRC and South Africa).