Namport commissions tug despite court caseBy: ADAM HARTMAN at WALVIS BAY
THE Namibia Ports Authority (Namport) yesterday christened its first newly commissioned vessel since Independence. The tugboat, being leased from Damen Shipyards, was named Onkoshi, which is Oshiwambo for 'lion'.
To Namport, Onkoshi signifies enhanced world-class service, added capacity to drive economic growth, and proof of increased volumes – not just to the benefit of Namibia, but for southern African, which is making more use of the Walvis Bay as port of choice.
Over the past two decades Namport has seen growth in infrastructure, equipment and port specialists. Milestones include the acquisition of two mobile cranes worth N$57 million; six rubber tyre gantries worth N$93 million; and the modification of berths to accommodate larger vessels to the tune of N$114 million.
An additional storage yard to increase capacity from 250 000 containers to 350 000 containers was also created, while two additional harbour cranes are being procured.
Regarding human resources, the parastatal currently has 21 bursary holders specialising in the fields of civil and mechanical engineering, medicine, accountancy, logistics management and maritime law. Sixteen marine engineers and deck officers are also undergoing training.
The port is experiencing growth of 10 per cent a year in container handling. Vehicle imports have increased by 72 per cent over the past five years with more than 1 000 vehicles entering and leaving the port every month.
Namport is also in the process of developing a new container terminal that will take the current capacity to over one million containers a year.
“Onkoshi represents the ability to accommodate the next generation of large vessels calling at Walvis Bay,” said Namport CEO Bisey Uirab.
Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua also referred to the developments at the harbour. He said that, through the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg), Namport has identified a number of large projects. These include the new container terminal, ship and rig repair facility, a tanker berth and a marina development – all worth N$3 billion and promising to create 3 000 jobs.
A tender for the delivery of a tugboat to Namport, which was awarded last year, is currently being challenged in the High Court by one of the bidders, Centani Investments, whose N$85,1 million tender lost to Damen Shipyards Cape Town’s bid of N$50,99 million.
Centani Investments alleges that there was “an irregular and improper and consequently unlawful interference” in the tender process.
Namport and Damen Shipyards say that Onkoshi has nothing to do with this case, since it is being leased.
Uirab yesterday said that Namport was committed to the “highest standards of integrity and transparency” in its procurement processes.
“It is perhaps as a result of our drive to be as inclusive as possible that we find some of our decisions are being challenged, and in our view, sometimes unfairly,” he said.
He said Namport “feels strongly” about encouraging and facilitating participation of local small businesses and previously disadvantaged entrepreneurs.
“This, however, cannot happen at huge unwarranted costs for Namport, and without any meaningful value being had from such players,” he said. “Our processes are not an invitation to drive the cost of business up unnecessarily, neither is it an invitation to encourage unacceptable business practices.”