Dredging helps build Namibia’s new container terminal

Port Walvis Bay Namibia. Credit: Igor Malushko

The port of Namibia’s Walvis Bay’s new container terminal is built on 40 ha of reclaimed land made up mostly of sandy material dredged from the facility’s basin, said Elzevir Gelderbloem, project manager and port engineer.

A cutter suction dredger with a dredging capacity of 3,000 m³ was used on the berth basin and turning basin to lower its depth to 14.4 m below chart datum. The dredged material was then pumped into what would form the base of the new container terminal.

Built by the China Harbour Engineering Company, the USD268 million construction project adds 600 m of quay wall to the port facilities. The new quay comprises three berths with a below chart datum of 16 m up to a distance of 30 m from the quay wall cope line. Two of the berths are dedicated to container handling and are serviced by four post-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes.

The expanded terminal will have a capacity of at least 750,000 teu per annum, compared with the previous capacity of 350,000 teu. The third new berth is a 376 m-long passenger liner jetty that can be worked on both sides. The outer berth can take passenger ships up to 92,700 gt and the inner side is used by the port’s working boats.

The three berths, which in the past have made up the old container terminal will now become a multipurpose terminal. This will also increase the port’s bulk and breakbulk handling capacity.
The port upgrades are the latest development in Namibia’s plan to establish the country as an international standard logistics hub.

It falls under the auspices of a public-private partnership, the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, which was set up in 2000 to improve cross-border trade. It comprises an integrated system of roads and rail networks linking the port of Walvis Bay to landlocked Southern African Development Community countries.

In a similar development move, South Africa’s state-owned port, rail, and pipeline company Transnet is planning a multimillion dollar liquefied natural gas storage and regasification terminal at the port of Richards Bay, and is looking for private sector partners to invest in and operate the facility.

“The facilities are expected to be operational by 2024. However, the target timeline is dependent on Transnet being able to secure the necessary regulatory approvals,” said Jabulani Sithole, Transnet executive manager for growth and diversification.

The project is still in its infancy. So far, Transnet has signed a cost-sharing agreement for a feasibility study with the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, which has committed USD2 million to the study.