Trans-Kalahari railway line on track

16 Feb 2017 16:00pm
By Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
WINDHOEK, 16 FEB (NAMPA) - The Ministry of Works and Transport has dismissed reports that the Trans-Kalahari railway project has hit a snag.
Director of Railway Infrastructure Management, Robert Kalomho said the Namibian and Botswana governments are still in the planning stages of how best to implement the project.
Speaking to Nampa on Tuesday, Kalomho said the two governments agreed to remodel the project from its sole reliance on the transportation of coal to being a regional corridor project to benefit the entire Southern African Development Community.
“We are currently finalising the terms of reference for such a diagnostic study,” he said.
However, Nampa is reliably informed that the Trans-Kalahari Project Management office that opened in Windhoek last year, has since been closed and staff incorporated within the Ministry of Works and Transport.
Kalomho responded that some officials who were seconded from the line ministry to do the railway’s project management, were temporarily recalled to their positions at the ministry to attend to other equally important matters.
“To say that they have been integrated into the Ministry of Works and Transport is incorrect since those officials have always been and remain employees of the ministry who were simply seconded to the Trans-Kalahari Project Management office,” he said.
He said some officials remain at that office to ensure activities continue as usual.
The 1 500 kilometre (km) railway line will traverse the vast semi-arid, sandy savannah of the Kalahari Desert from Botswana to Namibia, with the sole benefit of connecting the landlocked Botswana to Namibia’s port of Walvis Bay, thus unlocking the value of coal mining in Botswana and power generation in the region.
The railway line mirrors the existing Trans-Kalahari Highway or corridor, which links Botswana to Walvis Bay, but stretches 1 900 km from Walvis Bay through Windhoek to Gaborone in Botswana and then to Johannesburg to Pretoria in South Africa.
Construction of the project is expected to cost approximately N.dollars 119 billion.
Financing will be sourced through private stakeholders.
The Trans-Kalahari Highway was constructed at a cost of N.dollars 850 million and opened in 1998.