February 26 - The Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) has stated that part of its strategic initiative within its current five-year plan is to facilitate the growth of project cargo and abnormal loads through the Namibian Port of Walvis Bay.

WBCG says that it has been in contact with various shipping lines, abnormal load transporters and other service providers to create more awareness about this opportunity, and has since seen a significant increase in oversize cargoes via the Walvis Bay route, with goods destined to markets such as Zambia, Botswana, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to WCBG, Walvis Bay is well situated to offer European and North American shippers a gateway to Africa for their bulk, containerised and breakbulk shipments.

Over the past year, the Port of Walvis Bay has acquired a number of mobile cranes to support the gateway's project cargo handling capacity; while the port has also seen an increase in heavy hauliers using Walvis Bay as a faster and safer entry into the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region.

2015 saw Namibian imports dominated by vehicle shipments, but also boilers, machinery and other oversize equipment, said WCBG. Other abnormal loads passing through the African gateway included tanks, fire trucks, ploughing machines, harbour cranes, crushers and excavators.

"We have managed to attract more abnormal load hauliers to transport these abnormal loads from Walvis Bay to neighbouring countries," said WBCG ceo Johny Smith.

South African heavy lift and specialised transport company Vanguard is currently executing a contract involving the transport and installation of 15 transformers, weighing 110 tonne each, from Walvis Bay to the DRC.

Beginning in 2015, the contract continues this year with six further transformers scheduled for installation. The project has involved Vanguard using its heavy lift facility at the Namibian port to unload the units from the vessel and move them into temporary storage, before delivering the transformers to the jobsite.

According to WCBG, Vanguard is extending its facilities at Walvis Bay on a 1,000 sq m site.

"As mineral shipments through the Port at Walvis Bay from DRC and Zambia increases, this port is likely to become an important node for southern Africa and hence the upgrade of our facilities," said Vanguard director Craig Pace.

He explained that having heavy lift capacity at Walvis Bay removes the need for road permits and oversize clearances between the quayside and the storage yard.

"Cargo can now be received in a direct discharge area, for relocation to a dedicated heavy load storage and handling area; it can then be off-loaded for temporary storage and loaded onto the transport trailers as required."