In formulating transport policy guidelines for Namibia, especially on the maritime sector, it comes very quickly to light that the Republic of South Africa plays a very crucial role. This role is characterised through a highly unbalanced physical infrastructure between the two Namibias and an one-sided one towards South Africa. Nakop as current "Namibia's Gateway to the World" is a first order handicap for the country. Transport links are embedded in the overall South African-Namibian "Noose or Lifeline Situation". There is nothing natural about this pattern. As SADCC in its founding Lusaka Declaration of 1980 stressed, the regional dependence in transport and communications on South Africa is the result of "planned strategy not geographic logic nor free market forces".
It cannot be suggested to break ties with South Africa completely. This is not possible at short, even medium term. But, the membership to various UNO organisations, the OAU, the SADCC and the Lome Convention will create lots of new opportunities and will provide Namibia with avenues for diversifying the transport, communications and trade links. At the same time the high aspirations of the Namibian people will have to be taken into consideration. The existing structures and infrastructures were designed to benefit a small portion of the people only and also facilitated unabated exploitation of natural and human Namibian resources.
Some basic ideas of the policy of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication will be the following:
- The present structure of different departments is taken for given and many featuresof these bodies will be retained in the short term.
- The normal functions will have to be continued smoothly and effectively.
- We have to bridge and redress the imbalance of the two Namibias.
- We have to increase the level of real per capita income and the general level of quality of life for all Namibians and to fight unemployment.
- We have to reduce and eventually to eliminate direct South African control and to reduce South Africa's influence in the sectors of Transport and Communications to what is usual between two neighbouring countries and
- We have to gain full control over Walvis Bay and the Off-Shore Islands.
Without Walvis Bay, the Republic of Namibia is virtually a land-locked country notwithstanding the fact that it has a coastline of about 1.350 km in length. Lüderitz, the only other harbour , is about 1.000 km from the main centres of activities. Its port facilities are poor and inadequate, and overland access routes by road and rail do not have the capacity for carrying large quantities of import/export goods at the present point of time.
Plans and strategies have, therefore, to be developed and analysed in order to try to put pressure on South Africa to return Walvis Bay and the offshore islands and simultaneously to prepare the Republic of Namibia for all eventualities including different emergency scenarios.
It can be envisaged that the Government of the Republic of Namibia will have to decide on a strategy with respect to if and how to use Walvis Bay, while possible negotiations for the transfer of the enclave will have to be initiated. The government could, for instance, get the services of an "International Recognised Legal Expert" to investigate the international legal status of Walvis Bay. If this expert finds that according to international law Walvis Bay belongs undoubtedly to the Republic of Namibia, Namibia should get its right at the International Court of The Hague, otherwise Namibia has to obtain its birthright regarding Walvis Bay by negotiations with South Africa.
It can be expected at this very moment that the Government of Namibia has no choice but to continue to use Walvis Bay, at least for some time. During this time it will have to determine whether an arrangement exists which allows Namibia to use Walvis Bay, without such an arrangement being construed as an explicit or implicit recognition of the legality of South Africa's claim to the enclave and the islands. If such an arrangement could be envisaged, it does not seem unlikely that South Africa would give its assent, since it can be expected that South Africa's government would want that use should be made of Walvis Bay's facilities and that it would want to tie down the new Government of Namibia.
Therefore, if such acceptable arrangements concerning access can be found it will be investigated in this Memorandum in what way the Government should simultaneously consider what it should do in a longer term perspective in order to put pressure on South Africa to relinquish Walvis Bay. Additional actions will be the start-up of full-scale studies of and planning for the establishment of alternative harbour facilities somewhere on the coast north of Swakopmund and/or for the upgrading of Lüderitz. It will be shown that without a credible threat it will be difficult to put pressure on the Republic of South Africa to negotiate the status and control of Walvis Bay.
If, on the other hand it will be found in the Memorandum that there will be doubts about above-mentioned arrangements, the government will have to decide between (i) accepting the circumstances and start to plan for a different course of actions or (ii) stopping traffic to and from Walvis Bay (but not necessarily with South Africa), and make use of emergency operations (by using Lüderitz, Swakopmund, Namibe in Angola and overland transport routes to and from SADCC-member states), until a long-term solution (a new harbour) has been realised. All these different options have to be investigated with in depth-studies and identified and costed projects in this Memorandum and its Appendices and Annexures.
The decision of the government to develop a strategy for Walvis Bay will also be influenced by the issue of staying in the "Southern African Customs Union (SACU)" or leave the union. But, it can be expected that without Namibian control over Walvis Bay and without being anymore a member of "SACU", the government could land into the situation to negotiate a transit agreement with South Africa and to establish customs facilities at the perimeter of the Walvis Bay Enclave. These two actions could be considered to be unacceptable for the Namibian Government.
The above mentioned arrangement for the use of Walvis Bay may consequently influence the decision to remain an informal member or to become a full member of SACU. The threat to push South Africa to accept negotiations regarding the status of Walvis Bay would hence consist of two components, i.e. not only the planning for a new port, but also preparations for setting-up a new separate trade and customs regime for Namibia.
But, in order to be prepared for all eventualities, the Government of the Republic of Namibia needs to plan for possible emergency operations with different Emergency Scenarios which will be outlined in this Memorandum and its Appendices and Annexures (Scenario 1: Only Walvis Bay would not be available for imports/exports but the land routes to South Africa would be available; Scenario 2: Both, Walvis Bay and the land routes to South Africa would not be available).
It will be investigated whether it will be technically feasible to construct new port facilities as an alternative to Walvis Bay. It will also be analysed whether it would be feasible to construct smaller ports initially, to serve as a fishing port, and later develop them into fully-fledged ports.
These analyses is so more important given the fact that on 14 March 1991 official negotiations regarding the handing-over of the enclave of Walvis Bay and the Off-Shore islands will be initiated between the Republic of Namibia and the Republic of South Africa.
 Harbour refers to a natural phenomenon such as a sheltered bay providing anchorage for ships while a port refers to a harbour partially or completely created through engineering efforts to provide berthing and other marine facilities.