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Airport stand-off triggers blood crisis

The scuffle for cargo at Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) has left the Blood Transfusion Service of Namibia (NamBTS) with expired goods, backlogs and emergency orders.

Blood testing material will expire today as the battle between airport services company Menzies Aviation (Namibia) and the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) for cargo continues.

“The expiration dates of the reagents in the cargo consignments in question range between 7 September 2023 to 7 November 2023,” NamBTS spokesperson Zita Tobin said yesterday.

The NamBTS consignment is part of the cargo stuck in Menzies’ warehouse and cold storage as the blame game continues.

After a mediation session on Tuesday between the parties involved it was agreed that the cargo would be released, however, it cannot be found.

This has forced NamBTS to place emergency procurement orders for reagents with various suppliers.

“Tests were conducted manually as opposed to the normal automated process. This has created a backlog in testing samples and there was a further cost to NamBTS.

“The backlog on antenatal tests conducted over the past month has led to delays in patients’ reports to medical centres across the country,” Tobin said.

She said the reagents are a crucial component of the service’s quality and safety protocols ensuring all blood products issued to patients are safe for transfusion.

“The reagents are used for automated tests, and the machines used for these tests will automatically reject any reagents which have expired,” she said.

NAC head Bisey //Uirab yesterday explained why NamBTS has not received its much-needed cargo.

“It was found that the waybill which was brought by the agents did not correlate with information of that particular cargo.

“So, unfortunately we are not able to release that because the one that is set for those particular papers has different details.

“So obviously we did not release it,” he told Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani during a courtesy visit to the airport yesterday.

Namibia Airports Company head Bisey Uirab took official opposition leader McHenry Venaani on a tour of the Hosea Kutako International Airport during a courtesy visit on Tuesday. Photo: Shelleygan 

Menzies, in a press statement issued yesterday, accused the NAC of prohibiting the delivery of the items.

“This morning, Mr Bisey //Uirab from the NAC said at a press conference that the waybill number in possession of the NamBTS agent did not correspond with the consignment numbers of cargo present in Menzies warehouse.

“That is only a half truth,” Menzies said.

The company further alleges that the consignment is locked up or was removed from their warehouse.

“It is in respect of this warehouse of Menzies that the very NAC, as represented by Mr //Uirab and its lawyer Mr Shikongo, refused Menzies entrance,” the statement reads.

Other items in Menzies’ cargo includes merchandise which was meant to be sold at the annual Ongwediva Trade Fair, wedding attire, as well as a matric farewell dress needed next weekend.


//Uirab yesterday said the NAC will not bow to Menzies Aviation’s pressure, as the former ground cargo handler resists leaving HKIA in defiance of a court order.

He said businesses operating in Namibia must follow the rule of law, urging Menzies to leave and to let Paragon Aviation Services operate.

“. . . and you cannot particularly allow a foreign company to come and undermine the rule of law in this country,” he said.
//Uirab, who is also the CEO of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said they will see to it that the country’s legal regulations will be adhered to.

High Court judge Hannelie Prinsloo on 1 September ruled in favour of the NAC and dismissed Menzies’ appeal against its abrupt eviction from HKIA on 19 August.

Not only did the judge dismiss the appeal with costs, but she also removed the case from the court’s docket, emphasising that Menzies Aviation Namibia lacks a legal foundation to maintain its occupation of NAC premises at HKIA.

“We want to make sure the laws of this country are honoured by people who operate within the boundaries of this country,” //Uirab said.

He said Menzies’ allegations of corruption should be dealt with in court.

“We feel confident that we are doing the right thing and that we have nothing to hide,” //Uirab said.

Local company Paragon Aviation Services has taken over as new ground handler at the airport.


Meanwhile, //Uirab disclosed that the NAC is actively pursuing discussions with multiple airlines regarding their potential operations in Namibia.

“I think the earliest indication we have with some of them is in the first quarter of 2024. Interest has been expressed by many airlines to come to Namibia,” //Uirab said.

He said the NAC has reached out to 11 carriers and successfully scheduled meetings with South African Airways, FlySafair, Qatar Airways, FastJet, Air France, Delta Airlines, and Proflight.

//Uirab added that they are also engaged in negotiations aimed at boosting the frequency of existing airline services at the airport.

Furthermore, the NAC is collaborating with various stakeholders not only to promote Hosea Kutako International Airport but also to position Namibia as an appealing destination for both tourism and business endeavours.


The NAC has additional plans for airport relocations and expansions. Rundu Airport is set to be relocated to facilitate future commercial use.

Furthermore, Katima Mulilo Airport will undergo significant upgrades.

In response to industrial developments in the oil and gas and green hydrogen sectors at Lüderitz, there are also expansion plans for Lüderitz Airport.