They Are Lucky, I Am Going

PRESIDENT Hifikepunye Pohamba said he would inform his successor not to bailout loss-making state-owned enterprises (SoEs) to reduce dependence on government.

Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for Namport’s N$3 billion container terminal in Walvis Bay on Friday, Pohamba said parastatals were lucky that his term of office ends this year.

“They are lucky I am going. If I stayed, they were not going to get it (bailout) any more. Instead of making money, you are depending on the government’s budget. Time and again, you go to the finance minister and ask for money. Stop that!” Pohamba said before a large audience that included some parastatals’ chief executive officers (CEOs).

The President said he would make sure he informs his successor not to bailout parastatals any more and also ensure that the CEOs who run the parastatals either shape up or ship out.

He further said SoEs were established to assist government financially as profit making enterprises, not the other way around.

“Now you will see [parastatals] coming and saying they want government’s budget that they want more money from the budget,” he further said.

Pohamba added: “Some of you are not doing well. All that I get is the increment the increment all the time. We have a system to do the assessment and those who are doing well, why not get an increment?”

While he praised Namport CEO Bisey Uirab “for running Namport satisfactorily”, Pohamba was quick to warn him at the same time, saying: “You are now going to say that ‘the President said that I am doing well’, then you are going to relax. If you relax, I can assure you that your next term will not be renewed.”

The new terminal will treble the container handling capacity to more than one million containers per year when it is completed in 2017.

Pohamba described this as one of the biggest infrastructural developments in Namibia since Independence.

He said the development will become a logistical hub not just for Namibia, but for the Southern African region too, especially the landlocked nations.

“Our port plays a critical role in the strategic areas of logistics and public infrastructure and significantly contributes to economic growth and poverty reduction in Namibia and the Sadc region,” said NamPort Board chairman Jerry Muadinohamba.

Over the past 10 years, NamPort’s container handling increased from about 38 000 units to over 300 000 units a year. A demand forecast with regards to container traffic growth prompted the habour utility to increase its terminal space, which is currently at 355 000 containers per year, to a terminal that can handle more than one million containers a year.

The new terminal will also offer capacity to accommodate larger vessels as well as improve productivity and ship turn-around time.

“This will enable the port of Walvis Bay to attract new business and enhance current business with resultant increased cargo volumes and employment opportunities,” said Muadinohamba.

He said NamPort is being severely challenged by pressure from shipping lines calling for “fixed berth commitment” at port terminals to enable them to meet customer demands for a reliable and efficient service.

“Walvis Bay harbour is restricted in terms of flexibility relating to the provision of berthing windows due to the nature of its quay infrastructure,” he said.

He added that NamPort was considering various solutions including the possibility of accelerating the planned rehabilitation of certain portions of the quay infrastructure.

Pohamba said the port of Walvis Bay is one of Namibia’s most strategic economic assets, but added that while the fishing industry has grown and expanded over the years, the port’s potential for maritime trade has not been fully developed.

“Our government has, therefore, taken a decision to expand this port as part of our long-term strategy to develop infrastructure that will improve Namibia’s economic competitiveness and strengthen our country’s position as the preferred gateway for imports and exports to and from the Southern African region,” he said.

This is in line with the Sadc Strategic Indicative Development Plan, which calls for the facilitation of trade and increased investment to bring about deeper regional economic integration.

In order to achieve this objective, it is vital for Sadc states to develop integrated, efficient and cost-effective infrastructure such as ports, railways, airports, and roads that can be interlinked through the framework of transport and development corridors to facilitate trade and commerce.

Namibia has already made available land and signed agreements for the establishment of dry port facilities for Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe at Walvis Bay. Zambia has already commenced operations at its dry port while Botswana’s dry port infrastructure development will be completed this month.

China Harbour Engineering Company, which is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company, is the main contractor.

Source : The Namibian