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Multibillion-Pula Trans Kalahari Railway takes shape

Publishing Date : 14 January, 2019

Author : REARABILWE RAMAPHANE

Botswana Railways and its Namibian Counterpart state owned TransNamib recently penned down a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate the joint development of a container terminal at Gobabis.


 Located around 110km west of Botswana Namibia boarder. Gobabis is the terminus of a 1067 Km gauge line from the port of Walvis Bay via the capital Windhoek. According to executives of the two companies the MoU would serve as a standing point to assist the two governments with the development of proposed Trans-Kalahari railway.


 The 1500 kilometers railway line would connect Botswana to the Namibian Atlantic coast, traversing the vast semi-arid, sandy savannah of the Kalahari Desert from Botswana to Namibia, with the sole benefit of connecting the land-locked Botswana to Namibia's port of Walvis Bay, thus unlocking the value of coal mining in Botswana and power generation in the region.


TransNamib Corporate Communications Executive Ally Hangula Paulino observed this week that the over P100 billion railway line would complement the existing Trans-Kalahari corridor, which links Botswana to the port of Walvis Bay, but stretches 1 900 kilometres from Walvis Bay, through Windhoek, Gaborone in Botswana and Johannesburg to Pretoria in South Africa.


 The just signed Trans-Kalahari railway agreement includes adding a coal terminal and associated loading facilities to the Namibia-Botswana corridor that would benefit other landlocked Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries like Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe by providing alternative transportation routes. Botswana Government signed several agreements on the Walvis Bay and the shortcoming has been that the port and cargo bay are unutilized by the traders and Botswana business people.


According to Botswana Investment & Trade Center (BITC) government trade facilitation and investment wooing machinery the Botswana Dry Port acts as a key receipt or dispatch point for commodities either destined for Botswana or regionally providing storage and bagging.
 Opportunities presented by the Port are therefore in line with this, covering transport and logistics services to and from the Port including other services offered at the Port such as cartage services, container handling, stacking, storage, a break bulk terminal, general purpose warehouse, empty container park and value-added services such as customs clearance.


 The dry port facility project has cost the Botswana government about P50 million, under the commercial management of Botswana Railways Botswana Government leased a portion of land, measuring 36200sq from the Namibian government to establish a Dry Port in its quest to facilitate import/export activities for Botswana Businesses and international trade undertakings. Botswana as a member of Southern African Customs Union (SACU) has several trade agreements and advantages it has and enjoys from the membership.


Trans Kalahari High Way which is a corridor that links Botswana, South Africa and Namibia is one of the infrastructures put up by the Governments and international partners to help enhance cross border trade in the region.  The Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC) is a tripartite trans-boundary Corridor Management Institution that was established with a political and economic vision to pursue or contribute towards deeper regional integration programs of SADC, SACU and indeed NEPAD.


The Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC) is a road network spanning approximately 1900 kilometers across the territories of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.  It starts in the Gauteng Province in South Africa and continues through Rustenburg and Zeerust in the North-West Province, through Lobatse and Kanye in Botswana, the Mamuno and Trans Kalahari Border Posts, through Gobabis, Windhoek and Okahandja in Namibia and right through to the Port of Walvis Bay.


The port of Walvis Bay on the west coast of Namibia strategically links to other Corridors in the sub-region, namely: Trans Kunene Corridor, Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi (Trans Caprivi) Corridor, Windhoek-Luanda Corridor and Trans Oranje Corridor. Road network linkages cut across these Corridors creating a strategic network. The TKC also connects the ports of Walvis Bay with the Maputo Corridor, resulting in the Coast-to-Coast Corridor.


This Corridor is known for providing a short transport link across the entire breadth of the South African Sub-continent. Compared to the traditional routes via southern Namibia to South Africa’s Gauteng, TKC cuts the distance by 400 kilometers, making it a more preferred route and providing cost effective logistical advantages to users. The TKC is a strategic route-of-choice that provides linkages between the Americas and East European markets and the Southern African hinterland


The Trans Kalahari Corridor is complemented by the Maputo Corridor on the east coast of Africa, thus forming a transport corridor over the entire breadth of southern Africa. The Trans Kalahari Corridor Management Committee, a joint regional committee with rotatory chairmanship, was initiated and established by Namibia’s Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication in conjunction with the Botswana and South African Governments as well as private sector transport representatives. The Committee’s purpose is to simplify cross-border transactions and customs operations along the Corridor.

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