The first phase of the railway works at the Namibia Ports Authority (NamPort) has been completed with the parastatal spending about N$20 million for upgrading and replacement of rail.
NamPort Engineer Elsevier Gelderbloem said the project is to be completed within a period of five years.
“As part of a planned maintenance program, the relevant sections of rail in the Port of Walvis Bay was earmarked for complete rehabilitation more than five years ago. The sections of railways that were rehabilitated now included the main feeder line into the port as well as the line feeding the existing container terminal and the two staging lines in the container terminal, a total length of 4.5km,” Gelderbloem said.
He further noted that certain sections of the rails in the port still consisted of old 30 kg/m and 40 kg/m rails.
All rails were now upgraded to 48 kg/m rails. Most sections had to be totally reconstructed, which included complete track and sleeper replacement and re-ballasting. Although of relatively small value, this project was significantly complex due to the requirement for minimum operational interruption to the track which is in daily use.
However phase two of the project is expected to start in few years’ time as the first phase of the project has been completed by contactors known as the Namibia Rail Construction (NRC) Pty limited (LTD).
“The second phase will start in few years’ time. The works now completed is only stage 1 of the complete Port of Walvis Bay Railway rehabilitation project. Subsequent phases of the project will see other sections of track being rehabilitated. Future stages of the project will also involve rehabilitation of the track foundation, or layer works, by a process that involves chemical stabilization or strengthening of the subsurface ground by the injection of chemicals into the ground,” Gelderbloem said.
He added that this chemical injection technology avoids the downtime created with complete re-construction of the foundation. The recently completed stage 1 of the railway upgrade project leaves the Port of Walvis Bay with a state of the art railway network that can serve the Port of Walvis Bay well into the future.
However The Villager found, that NamPort is currently undergoing developments that will allow container storage to increase from a capacity of 350 000 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU’s) per annum to 750 000 per annum, and in the financial year 2014/15 the port handled 6,150,387 tonnes of cargo.
As part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s Regional Indicative Development Plan to integrate the region, the port expansion is meant to improve services until 2020 when further extensions can be made.
The growth in ship sizes and growing level of ship specialization such as bulk carriers car carries and containerships allows shipping lines to better achieve economies of scale. The new terminal development will allow to accommodate larger vessels with increased number of containers.
The port’s additional capacity with the introduction of new container holding technologies and process efficiencies will allow for the port to eliminate port congestion and improve supply chain efficiency.
The Villager, understands that the Port of Walvisbay is one of Africa’s most efficient and best equipped, with the capacity to handle more than 8 million tonnes of cargo and it is linked to Namibia’s air, rail, and road network, thus placed to service landlocked countries in southern Africa, especially through the arteries of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG).