TransNamib inks Gobabis station agreement with Botswana rail

TransNamib Holdings Limited has signed a lease agreement with Sea Rail Botswana for their Gobabis section, rolling out the multibillion-dollar Trans-Kalahari Railway project, which aims to connect Botswana's abundant coal fields to Namibia's coast.

 "Botswana Rail, through their subsidiary Sea Rail Botswana have signed a property lease agreement for our Gobabis section.  They have started with an Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) already submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism," TransNamib spokesperson Abigail Raubenheimer told The Brief.

She said the rail operator expects transportation of coal to start when the line between the station and Windhoek has been revamped.

Raubenheimer added that "transportation of cargo will commence once the railway line between Gobabis and Windhoek has been refurbished."

The two rail companies had previously signed an agreement which will see Botswana Railways investing in the upgrading of the Gobabis Station warehousing facilities.

The partnership means commodities destined for Botswana will be transported by rail from Walvis Bay to Gobabis, from where they would be transported by road to Botswana and the same will apply to commodities from Botswana being exported through the Port of Walvis Bay.

This comes when Namibia and Botswana have reaffirmed their commitment to the development of the multibillion-dollar Trans-Kalahari Railway project, which aims to link Botswana's rich coal fields to the Namibian coast.

The latest meeting was held between Namibia’s Works and Transport Minister John Mutorwa and Botswana Transport and Public Works Minister Eric Molale.

The Ministers called for the speedy implementation of the project, which is expected to boost trade and tourism, while contributing to employment creation in both countries.

They agreed to capacitate the project management office as a matter of urgency and approved its operational budget, and agreed to establish a technical team from TransNamib and Botswana Railways to advance the project.

 The 1,447-kilometre railway line project, which was conceived in 2010 with the commissioning of the feasibility study and bilateral agreement signed in 2014, will run from Mmamabula, Rasesa, towards Phuduhudu, following the Trans-Kalahari Highway through Mamuno border into Namibia, then Gobabis, Windhoek, Okahandja, to Walvis Bay as the final destination. 

As a result, TranNamib will cooperate with Botswana Railways to grow freight volumes between Walvis Bay and Gobabis to support imports/exports for Botswana with the support of the dry port.

TransNamib former CEO Johny Smith last year told Reuters that the company plans to move around 50,000 tonnes of coal a month off trucks carrying it from coal mines in Botswana and onto the trains at Gobabis, with a service between Walvis Bay and Gobabis expected to resume soon.

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