WALVIS BAY: The latest addition to the Namibian Port Authority (Namport) fleet, the Tugboat Onkoshi, was officially christened here on Monday.
Onkoshi, which means ‘lion’ in Oshiwambo, will be used in the town’s harbour and is being leased from South African company Damen Shipyards Cape Town.
Speaking during the christening ceremony, Namport Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bisey /Uirab indicated that the vessel signifies the company’s growth to accommodate a new generation of vessels.
“The vessel also signifies the trust international customers place in Namport’s ability to deliver world class services and shows Namport’s marketing efforts to improve volumes along Namibia’s corridors for the purpose of long-term sustainability,” he added.
The tugboat is said to be the first in the Namport fleet with its capabilities, including “superior manoeuverability and excellent stability”, the ability to shoot water up to 200 metres high in fire-fighting operations, and a “superior” bollard pull – a term used to describe the pulling capability of a tugboat.
/Uirab went on to say that the past 20 years have been characterised by continuous investment in Namport’s infrastructure, equipment, people and training to ensure that the authority has the capacity to serve the region.
“The newly acquired vessel represents an important aspect of that to accommodate the next generation of large vessels calling at Walvis Bay,” he said.
The leasing of the tugboat comes while the authority is involved in a dispute with Centani Investments over the awarding of a tender for the delivery of a tugboat to Namport.
Centani Investments, one of the bidders, is challenging the awarding of the tender in the High Court after it lost out to Damen Shipyards Cape Town with a bid of N.dollars 85,1 million.
Damen Shipyards Cape Town’s offer was N.dollars 50,99 million.
Local English daily The Namibian however reported earlier this month that Namport’s executive port operator, Alf Kathindi said the leasing of the tugboat has nothing to do with the tender.
Centani Investments alleges that there was “an irregular and improper and consequently unlawful interference” in the tender process when a recommendation from a tender committee of Namport, which was allegedly in favour of Centani Investments’ tender bid, was apparently not passed on to the company’s executive committee, but was first referred to an outside consultant.
The consultant allegedly then recommended that the contract should be awarded to rival bidder Damen Shipyards Cape Town instead.
Alluding to the tender row, /Uirab on Monday indicated that Namport is committed to the highest standards of integrity and transparency in it procurement processes.
“It is perhaps as a result of our drive to be as inclusive as possible that we find some of our decisions are being challenged, and at times even unfairly. Our processes are not an invitation to drive the cost of business up unnecessarily, neither is it an invitation to encourage unacceptable business practices,” he said.
Attempts to get comment from Namport regarding the amount the tugboat is being leased for from Damen Shipyards Cape Town, proved futile.