TRANSPORT: Ensuring Diamonds are Forever
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ANYONE seeking passage through Namibia's diamond-rich Sperregebied is subject to rigorous control both before and after traversing the area.
When specialised transport and logistics company Cargo Carriers was recently contracted by Namdeb Diamond Corporation (Namdeb) to transport petroleum into this secure terrain, in a three year deal worth around R36 million, their drivers enjoyed the novelty of having their very own security escort.
The train of security escorts had little to do with rising truck hijacking statistics common in SA currently. Namibia's diamond industry is worth approximately US$700 million annually, accounting for around 7% of its GDP. The Diamond Coast, the strip that houses the 26 564 sq km Sperregebied, bears one of the world's richest diamond lodes.
To reduce diamond theft, stringent regulations for travellers are observed. A special diamond security branch of the national police force approves entry permits; the main mining region is secured behind double cordon fencing; and access is controlled from a central point. On exiting the strip, all visitors are subject to x-ray checks.
“The route runs across this diamond-dusted desert for 200 km on dirt roads,” explains general manager of Cargo Carriers’ Chemical & Fuel Business Unit Bennie Barnard, of the contract with Namdeb. “We will be running 35 million litres of petrol and diesel into areas like Oranjemund and Daberas, and are using six new vehicle combinations, Mercedes Benz trucks with tri-axle trailers, in this new operation.”
Barnard says their function is a bridging one, taking petroleum to bulk storage facilities where Namdeb mining operations will draw on it at will. He estimates that the contract is worth R12 million per year over a three year period and is essentially a renewal of the contract already enjoyed with Namdeb.
The contract renewal comes as a reward for Cargo Carriers' expertise and reputation in the chemicals transportation sector. Last year Cargo Carriers was again endorsed by the Chemical and Allied Industries Association (CAIA) when the firm pledged to promote employee health and safety, and to uphold environmental safety in its dealings. In furthering this ideal, its skilled drivers and personnel receive ongoing product and driver training in the highly specialised chemicals business. Because all its drivers are closely screened, they make the ideal candidates for running transport through Namibia's restricted access diamond areas.
The haulier is keen to make full use of the Namdeb operation, according to Barnard, "This contract creates the opportunity to gain a foothold in the Namibian market.
For now the unit will be managed from the office in Cape Town but the operating staff and office will be based in Namibia, reporting into Cape Town."
Cargo Carriers is a specialised transportation, supply chain and logistics service provider.
They provide a full suite of transportation solutions in industry verticals, namely sugar, steel, powders, fuel and chemicals, which are backed up by an extensive national and cross-border infrastructure, industry expertise and best of breed software.
The company celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.
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