It was always one of the main objectives of Namibia since the day of Independence on 21. March 1990 and it was more specifically my personal vision for many years to change the accent of Namibia's unique transport pattern. Instead of a network directed generally southwards, with long transport routes to South Africa, we put the emphasis on short east-west routes to the two ports of Walvis Bay and Lüderitz and to attract traffic from our neighbours to the east and the north to the Namibian coast. I always called the former transport pattern Namibia's "noose or lifeline situation". It was our major task in the first four years after Independence to change this noose or lifeline situation. With other words we had to cut the noose. This policy was according to the "Law of the First Step" immediately initiated after Independence

This policy was reflected in some major east-west highway projects which are now completed or in the process to be completed in the next two years. I refer to the completion or part completion of the Trans-Caprivi and Trans-Kalahari highways as well as the completion of the Aus-Goageb and Oshakati-Okahao highways. The completion of these major transport axes represents the shift from the north-south into the east-west transport direction (Appendix 1).

But, this only cut the noose incompletely. The complete noose cut was achieved with the technical and institutional re-integration of Walvis Bay where the Ministry played an important role. This noose or lifeline transport policy was rounded off by a new transport policy as reflected in the "Draft White Paper on Transportation Policy in Namibia" which has now reached implementation stage and a new civil aviation policy based on competition and part deregulation.

The first years after Independence were thus characterised by changing the noose or lifeline transport pattern. This first major task of the Ministry is now achieved. Now we have to shift to the second major task for the next five years. This new major task will be called the consolidation and maintenance task of our transport infrastructure as well as institutional change to the sectors of transport and communication.

With the re-integration of the Port of Walvis Bay into the Republic of Namibia on 1st of March 1994 the newly established "Namibian Port Authority (NamPort)" came into being. The main arguments for the establishment of this state-owned, commercialised Port Authority for the Namibian ports were the following [1]: The creation of the Namibian Ports Authority is part of the second task to cut the noose completely.

On 28 February 1994 Namibians celebrated the "home-coming of Walvis Bay" - the formal hand-over by South Africa of Namibia's main Atlantic coast port, its surrounding enclave of 1 124 km2 and the 12 uninhabited offshore "Penguin Islands" - made possible by an historic bilateral agreement reached in September 1993. With that Namibia gained an additional 30 000 inhabitants and ownership of the relatively small but efficient and modern commercial and fishing port complexes.

The Government of Namibia intends to improve the efficiency of the Port of Walvis Bay in a systematic and planned way in order to make Walvis Bay a major export and import harbour for the whole southern African region. Due to the fact that Walvis Bay is situated eight days sailing time nearer to the major markets of the western world this assumption is a realistic one. Assuming that this point correctly outlines the current and future situation of the Port of Walvis Bay, and realising that it is in the national interest of Namibia to strengthen its major seaport, the author of this paper suggested shortly after the historical meeting between the governments of the Republic of Namibia and the Republic of South Africa in August 1993 - which resulted in the re-integration of Walvis Bay into Namibia on 01. March 1994 - that a Strategic Development Plan on the basis of which concepts and ideas and the further development and upgrading of the Walvis Bay Port may be implemented, should be adopted by the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication with the keywords: Performance and Low Prices. Subsequently it was negotiated between the Ministry and the German Government (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau) that such a Port Development Master Plan consisting of an Infrastructural Masterplan, a Business Plan for the Namibia Ports Authority (NamPort) and a Human Resources Plan would be financed by the German Government by a grant and be implemented as quickly as possible. The Port Development Master Plan should concentrate on the objective to make Walvis Bay the Hub Port for the whole region on the basis of combined cargo going straight north.

Furthermore, the situation of the Port of Lüderitz has to be critically evaluated and this important regional port for Namibia´s south has to be optimally and at maximum promoted. Traffic yields for Lüderitz have to be maximised. Ore transshipment from the Karas Region have to make use of Lüderitz and development plans have to be designed accordingly. The position of Lüderitz has to be fully incorporated into the Port Development Master Plan for Namibian ports.

Such a Development Plan for the Namibian ports took the following reference points into consideration:

i.) In order to enable the Port of Walvis Bay to accurately define and identify its position within the land and seaborne transportation networks in Southern Africa, an all-embracing Port Development Master Plan should be submitted by independent and professional engineering, transport and shipping consultants. Great care went into the phrasing of the Terms of Reference for the said Master Plan since so much depends on its completeness. These Terms of Reference were finalised and agreed between the Ministry, NamPort and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau during August 1994.

ii.) Once the Development Master Plan has been submitted - and the sooner this happens the better (not later as end-1995) - and once its principal findings and recommendations have been endorsed by the Authorities concerned, the said recommendations have to be implemented without delay.

iii.) Development Plans of this nature almost by definition tend to be general since they have to address a multitude of subjects, in the case under review including but not necessarily limited to:

- national road infrastructure and
- national rail infrastructure and transport;
- cross-border road and rail transport;
- extensions of present surface transport
  capacities, and financing thereof;
- cargo volumes, past, present and future
  for different scenarios;
- origins and destinations of such cargo for
  different scenarios;
- current patterns of ocean-borne
- the Port of Walvis Bay:
        - its infrastructure;
        - its rated and actual capacities;
        - its performance: in technical and
          commercial terms;
        - its pricing policy;
        - its administration.

It may well be prudent, in a second round, to appoint consultants to submit practical solutions for coherent sets of interrelated subjects such as, e.g., land transportation, cargo flows/statistics, port operations, marketing and sales activities, all within the parameters of the Development Plan for the Port of Walvis Bay.

It is the considered opinion of the author of this paper that any party commissioning studies such as those suggested above should stipulate from inception that the consultant(s) submitting the Development Plan are expected to assume responsibility for the actual implementation of their suggestions [2]. This ensures that the said suggestions will be reality-orientated, down to earth and practical, as they ought to be. It has the added advantage of providing, as a by-product, badly needed transfer of technologies from foreign experts to nationals who are thus trained on-the-job for the functions they are to fill as soon as they are capable of assuming the responsibilities going with their jobs. This transfer of technologies can be supplemented by additional training programmes for Namibian nationals in effectively functioning over-seas ports.


[1] Extracts from speech before Parliament (National Assembly) in motivating the new "Namibian Ports Authority Bill (Bill 2 of 1994) (Act No.2 of 1994 dated 28.02.1994) by Hon. Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Dr. Klaus Dierks, M.P.

[2] Dierks, Klaus: The Other Side of Donor Aid, New Era, Windhoek, 31 March 1994, p.11 and 14. April 1994, p.11

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