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Multimillion Pula Dry Port a white elephant…


The Multimillion Botswana Dry Port in Namibia is yet to fully discharge its intended purpose.  


The Dry Port which was initiated by President Festus Mogae and his Namibian counterpart, Hifipunye Pohamba in April 2006 for a number of reasons among them to foster cooperation both at political and commercial level has been a source of controversy since establishment and has been giving the government a headache.


The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) recently organised a two-day business forum in an effort to market and promote the Botswana dry port to promoters from both Namibia and Botswana. Stakeholders met to discuss the challenges besieging the multimillion Pula Dry Pot.


It was revealed at the meeting that the dry port has become a white elephant as it is underutilised as a result of poor marketing among others. This was revealed by the Botswana High Commissioner to Namibia Tshenolo Modise at the forum attended by delegates from the Trans-Kalahari Corridor Secretariat, C Rail Botswana, clearing agencies and Batswana entrepreneurs.


The High Commissioner revealed that they have realised that the dry port was underutilised since it started operating in September last year.


“It is sad to reveal that the port is seriously underutilised and is giving us sleepless nights as it has become an embarrassment to us as this is a significant investment by the government,” said Modise.


The Dry port was expected to act as a key receipt or dispatch point, providing storage and bagging for commodities either destined for Botswana or regionally.


Moreover it was expected to offer handling as well as temporary storage services for goods carried in bond by an applicable transport mode, placed under customs control and with customs and other agencies competent to release goods for domestic use, warehouse, temporary admissions, re-export, temporary storage for onward transit as well as outright export. This, Modise said has not been happening as expected.


The dry port is experiencing hiccups and the impression given is that the Botswana government embarked on a project that it cannot handle and achieve its mandate.


“We receive a series of enquiries everyday from people asking about the Port’s operations and so forth and some of the questions are on point and very embarrassing as they give the impression that we wasted money on something that we cannot handle,” Modise asserted.


A source told this publication that it also appears like proper research was not done prior to embarking on the project. “ A lot needs to be done to bring the Port into context and more money needs to be spent to revamp, redefine and refine it to be more appealing to the Southern African Development Committee (SADC) members.


The dry port encompassed an area of 36 200 square metres of land located at the south-eastern side of the Walvis Bay port next to TransNamib locomotive maintenance and road depots.


“We still learn that a lot of companies in Botswana still use other routes like South Africa and others, although the Walvis Bay route is more efficient and effective,” she said.


The forum was intended to look into the troubles besieging the Dry Port and hopefully come up with solutions that would leave it being fully operational as well as highlighting the benefits offered by using the dry port as well as the Trans-Kalahari road.


Modise told delegates that marketing of the port was of utmost importance as Botswana is losing out on its significant investment.


The Dry Port was also established to achieve long-term economic aspirations which include the growth of companies and businesses in Botswana and Namibia and to assist in the reduction of transportation costs between the two nations. The other reason was to promote the use of the Trans Kalahari Corridor.


The dry port is a sequel to a 2009 agreement between Botswana and Namibia port authorities and was constructed on a piece of land measuring about 36 000 square metres in Walvis Bay.

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