Chinese bus manufacturer King Long has supplied Namibia’s biggest diamond miner, Namdeb, with the country’s first-ever battery-electric 65-seater bus (E-bus).
The purchased imported E-bus, which arrived on Oct. 5, was introduced to Namdeb workers in Oranjemund, located in the southwest region of Namibia on Oct. 14.
This new addition to their fleet aligns with Namdeb’s values of sustainability and their goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. Furthermore, the electric bus is part of a pilot testing program aimed at reducing the use of diesel and promoting the use of battery electric vehicles.
The decision to opt for King Long was based on their responsiveness throughout the process and their ability to deliver a product that meets all requirements, Namdeb’s Divisional Engineer Pankratius Kondjamba who has been leading the project, told Xinhua Tuesday.
“Other suppliers (including major suppliers of our current diesel buses like Volvo, Scania, and MAN) were included in the technical feasibility study, and they either did not have a product (E-bus) that meets Namdeb’s safety, technical, and/or operational requirements or the suppliers had no presence in the African market as yet,” he said.
According to Kondjamba, the Namdeb team is currently being trained by King Long’s representatives on-site.
“They will be training Namdeb drivers, mechanics, auto electricians, electricians, supervisors and engineers. Training officers are also being trained to ensure that a train-the-trainer session takes place as a form of skills transfer for future training,” he said.
The commissioning and training will be completed by the end of October after which the E-bus will be operating in Oranjemund Town to transport employees to work until the end of 2023, according to Kondjamba.
“This is to allow the rest of the infrastructures, such as charging stations, to be installed in the supply chain management as well as ensuring easy access by the King Long’s technical support team should there be any unforeseen technical challenges,” he added.
Meanwhile, Namdeb’s Chief Executive Riaan Burger said in a statement that no business can claim to be geared for the future and positively contributing to the world unless it becomes carbon neutral.
“The E-bus is one such opportunity that contributes to creating a carbon-neutral future for Namdeb,” he said.
Burger also said that the introduction of new technology requires new skill sets, as well as an opportunity to build capacity and re-skill drivers and mechanics to enable them to operate and maintain the E-bus.
According to Burger, Namdeb is exploring the possibility of procuring an additional six E-buses over the next two years as Namdeb seeks to reduce its overall diesel and electricity consumption by improving the efficiency of its processes as part of accelerating its carbon neutrality journey.
Namdeb, which is owned in equal shares by the Namibia government and De Beers Group, has its operations along the southwest coast of Namibia, with land-based operations in Oranjemund and satellite mines near Luderitz.