Port of Namibe held back by lack of infrastructure

Dec 27, 2003
Author: P&S

The commercial port quay at the port of Namibe in southern Angola remains in a dilapidated condition and in need of urgent rehabilitation by the central government.

This was said at the annual year-end ceremony held in the port, reports the Angola Press Agency in Luanda. The port operator’s press officer, Bento da Paixão is quoted saying that budgeted targets were achieved as a result of poor port infrastructure and because port tariffs went unrevised.

Between January and December 2003 Namibe port handled a total of 292,106 tonnes of cargo, earning in the process USD 4.3 million.

The port of Namibe was originally known as Moçamedes and was redeveloped with deepwater facilities in the early 1950s to facilitate the export of high-grade iron ore from the mines at Casinga, for which a railway branch was developed at Dongo off the main line to Menongue. This branch was completed in 1967. At the port iron ore was loaded onto ships at Sacomar, some 10km from the commercial (general cargo) quay.

Building of the mainline railway known as CFM (Caminho de Ferro de Moçamedes) began back in 1905 and was gradually extended eastward into the interior as finances became available, reaching Lubango (then known as Sa da Bandeira) in 1923.

The line was originally built to a narrow gauge of 600mm gauge using the lightest construction methods, but with the development of the iron ore mines at Casinga in the early 1950s this was broadened to Cape gauge (1067mm) and strengthened in addition to extending it to Serpa Pinto (now Menongue) deep in Angola’s southern hinterland. The Casinga branch was completed in 1967.

The mines closed in the mid 1970s during the hostilities in southern Angola and prior to this the port was reported handling bulk ships of 200,000-dwt with an annual throughout of 6.4 million tonnes in 1973, of which nearly 98 percent came from iron ore.

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