Plans for Trans-Kalahari Railway project at advanced stage

12 Aug 2013 07:50
WINDHOEK, 12 AUG (NAMPA) – Botswana’s High Commissioner to Namibia, Gobopang Lefhoko says plans for the Trans-Kalahari Railway project, which is a big development with huge financial implications, are at an advanced stage.
Lefhoko was speaking during a courtesy call paid to Foreign Affairs Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah here on Monday.
Although his term only comes to an end in October 2013, Lefhoko will depart for Botswana next week due to other official obligations.
“Negotiations on the Trans-Kalahari Railway project are at an advanced stage. It is a big project not to rush into – we must first close all the loopholes,” he said.
At 1 500 kilometres (km), the proposed Trans-Kalahari Railway will run from the Mmamabula coalfield in Botswana and the Waterberg coalfield in South Africa to the country’s dry port in Namibia. The railway line, which was already envisaged in the year 2011, is expected to serve as a new gateway for Botswana’s imports and exports.
The objectives of the project are to consolidate maritime goods in intermodal short and long distance transport flows; to improve cargo processing through co-ordinated operations; to reduce transport costs and journey time; and to strengthen the role of the port of Walvis Bay in transport chains.
Construction of the railway line was expected to take approximately five years, and to cost about US dollars 11 billion (about N.dollars 110 billion).
According to Lefhoko, the implementation of this project is envisaged to bring huge benefits to both Botswana and Namibia through efficient facilitation of their trade and creation of huge employment opportunities.
Speaking about Botswana’s Dry Port in Walvis Bay, Lefhoko said the project might be operational by the end of this year or early next year. Namibia and Botswana signed a 50-year Dry Port lease agreement in September 2009. The 36 000 square metre plot is adjacent to the southern end of the Walvis Bay harbour and railway station. Lefhoko said the development of the Dry Port will also increase trade between the two countries.
Lefhoko was also upbeat about the West Africa Cable System (WACS), in which Botswana and Namibia have invested US dollars 75 million (about N.dollars 750 million) on a 50/50 cost-sharing basis. He said the connectivity is critical for the two countries’ development and competitiveness in a globalised world.
WACS is a 14 900km submarine communications cable which links South Africa with the United Kingdom along the west coast of Africa, with 15 terminal stations along the western coast of the continent.
The live activation ceremony of WACS took place in Swakopmund in June 2012.
Meanwhile, Lefhoko said Namibia’s cleanliness should serve as an example to all countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and beyond.