Trans-Kalahari rail project still on

17 March 2020 | Infrastructure

OGONE TLHAGE



TransNamib CEO Johny Smith says there is still interest from the Namibian and Botswana governments to bring the Trans-Kalahari rail project to fruition.

He made the comment in a recent interview with Namibian Sun when he was asked what the status of the project was.

According to him, the willingness to see the project finalised depended on the two governments allocating the necessary resources.

“There was a follow-up meeting held between the two ministers of transport. It is just a matter of the two governments prioritising the project and making sure that the resources are available,” Smith said.

Once complete, the route would link Namibia to Botswana by rail.

Smith said there was an interest in the transport sector.

“There is a lot of interest from users who would like to use this linkage.”

The governments of Namibia and Botswana signed an agreement in March 2014 to start the joint venture, which was to see the successful construction of the Trans-Kalahari railway at a cost of N$100 billion.

The 1 500-kilometre railway was expected be completed in five years and would initially depend on exporting 90 million tonnes of coal each year from Botswana to India and China.

In the meantime, Transnet, South Africa's state rail corporation, has reconvened talks with its counterpart, Botswana Rail, to build a railway line to link the two countries. The move could jeopardise TransNamib’s plan.

According to Fin24, the deal seeks to unlock the potential of Botswana's coal reserves, estimated at 212 billion tonnes.

Transnet said railway expansion programmes linked to the construction of the Botswana rail network were at the execution stage.

“This particular programme, which is in the construction phase, is a step towards unlocking both Waterberg and Botswana coal. The Botswana coal reserves are estimated at 212 billion tons,” Transnet said.

“Other projects in support of this programme include the upgrade of the electrical infrastructure on the coal heavy-haul system and the construction of a second tunnel at Overvaal in Mpumalanga, among others,” it added.

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