· Bernabé Blaauw
During the launch of the Municipality of Walvis Bay's 2013-2017 Strategic Plan, members of the audience were stunned by a number of announcements and proposals that will certainly change the character of the harbour town and the lives of its residents forever.
An abridged version of the 5-year strategic plan was made public yesterday and during the presentation of the Integrated Urban Spatial Development Framework (IUSDF), Namport's expansion plans and the Walvis Bay International Logistics Park (WILP), it became clear that the development of the SADC Gateway Port, more commonly known as the North Port concept, is already a fait accompli, because the expansion of the Container Terminal in the existing harbour will reach maximum capacity within a few years.
During his presentation on the IUSDF, Mr Ted Rudd of Urban Dynamics said that it is already clear that the current port is constrained and that the development of the North Port concept is becoming imperative.
He also said that the expected population growth of Walvis Bay is a clear indication that the central business district (CBD) must develop in the form of nodes in the direction of the airport, and the same goes for future residential development. He noted that it is a reality that Walvis Bay can no longer remain as a tourist town, because there is an over-whelming need for industrial growth.
During his presentation on Namport, Port Engineer Elzevir Gelderbloem, made it clear that the container capacity of the existing port cannot suffice in the long term and Namport realised that the North harbour concept was indeed feasible.
He then announced that Namport, the Municipality and central government have all readily accepted the need for the North Port and that they have committed themselves to the development of Phase 1, namely the development of a tanker berth and a small bulk export berth.
Construction is due to start already in 2014.
The Namib Times recently reported that Cabinet had in principle agreed to the development of the Northern Port concept, but at that stage it was confirmed by key players as merely a concept and not a reality.
It also came to light that the signing of an agreement on the extension of the rail-way line from Gobabis to Botswana is on the cards. Mr Gelderbloem further said that phase 2 and onwards of the north harbour is still in the planning phase, but that the Botswana Coal Rail will have a defi-nite influence on phase 3.
Regular references in the discussion to the Namibia/Botswana rail extension was a clear indication of the importance of this agreement and the presence of Ms Omphile Sedimo, representative of the Botswana High Commissioner, certainly created an “official” impression despite recent reports that South Africa is also looking at the rail transport of the Botswana coal.
The development of the planned Gobabis International Logistics Park (GILP) was also announced yesterday. Chief Executive Offi-cer of WILP, Mr José Oliveira said that the population of Walvis Bay will double in the next 10 to 15 years and that the harbour town lends itself perfectly to their development plans for an industrial area behind Dune 7. The plan includes a tarred dual road behind the dunes and also under-roof coal stock-piling.
Mayor Uilika Nambahu concluded the proceedings by officially launching the 2013-2017 Strategic Plan with the words: “We now have a broad vision with particular objectives in place to improve the standard of living of all who live and work in Walvis Bay. The immense task of translating this into action rests on the shoulders of all stakeholders” adding that “the plan is not a holy cow and if need be, will be tweaked from time to time as may be required.”