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Zimbabwe: Walvis Bay Project Fails to Take Off

National Railways of Zimbabwe subsidiary, Road Motor Services, says the construction of the country’s Walvis Bay dry port in Namibia has again failed to resume as Government continues to face financial challenges.

Construction was supposed to resume in November last year when the Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) promised to avail $1,4 million for the project. However, up to now no funds have been channelled towards the project forcing the authorities to put the project on hold

The Government of Namibia in September 2009 granted Zimbabwe 19 000 square metres of land to construct its own dry port that is expected to boost the country’s trade.

In an interview with The Herald Business yesterday, RMS managing director Mr Cosmos Mutakaya said so far no funds have been received from COMESA.

He said previously the Industry and Commerce Ministry had engaged COMESA in different consultative meetings trying to secure funding for the project.

“Last year Comesa promised funding for the project but up to now, no funding has been received and from then development of the place has been put on hold. We are optimistic that once funding is availed construction will begin.

He said all the relevant documentation was submitted to COMESA.

Construction of the dry port is supposed to be done in two phases. The first phase is going to involve the civil works which includes construction of the drive-in weighbridge, storage shades, palisade fencing as well as installation of electric catwalks. Phase two involves the putting up of administration blocks.

He said once phase one is completed, the dry port operations will start.

“We are now waiting for Treasury and COMESA to unlock funds for us to start construction. The Namibian contractor, Namport, will also start working on the port once the funds are made available.

“I understand there are steps taken by Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure development to make sure the construction resumes but it’s only the Ministry that has the mandate to furnish you with fresher details,” Mr Mutakaya said.

“According to the contractor, phase one of the project can take five working months to complete.”

The project was supposed to have been completed by May last year.

Efforts to get a comment from officials at the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development were fruitless.

A senior Government official who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Herald Business that Government has been facing challenges in making payments to the Walvis Bay Corridors Group, (the company responsible for the construction of the port) and operations had to be stopped for some time pending clearance of some outstanding fees.

Trade for Zimbabwe via Walvis Bay has increased in the past few years and a large percentage of commodities are transported along this corridor. Zimbabwe’s trade volumes through the Port of Walvis Bay have grown significantly to more than 2 500 tonnes per month.

Source -AllAfrica