After its decision to terminate the operations of the passenger train in early 2009, the Botswana Railways will soon reverse that decision as the suspended passenger trains are expected to be reintroduced.
The Minister of Transport and Communications, Nonofo Molefhi, said that the ministry, together with Botswana Railways, is working on bringing back the train service to Batswana.
Speaking at the official opening of Rail Park Mall, Molefhi said that through the construction of the mall, Botswana Railways has managed to raise enough capital to re-invest their mandate of transporting both goods and people. He said that the impact of stopping the passenger train operations has had a negative impact on Batswana as, during the holidays and month ends, buses fail to cope with the number of Batswana travelling.
Molefhi also announced that Botswana Railways has been tasked with the role of exploring the rail link with Zimbabwe, Namibia and Mozambique after the completion of the ongoing construction of the Kazungula Bridge, which will see Botswana connecting with African countries to the north. This is expected to open alternative trading routes for Botswana and neighbouring countries, as more goods will be transported up north of the Zambezi River.
At the same venue, Vice President Mompati Merafhe said that Botswana Railways is better positioned as an economic enabler in Botswana through the provision of a cost effective, efficient and safe transportation of goods to where they are destined.
Merafhe said that Botswana Railways should aim to unlock value from both their movable and immovable assets, such as the commercial exploitation of land, like they did with Rail Park Mall.
He added that such assets increase the economic depth of the country by providing opportunities for further economic development needed for the growing socio-economic demands.
He noted that through the building of the mall, Botswana Railways has increased the value of the land which before was making P60 000 per annum in rentals but now makes a gross rental income calculated in excess of P3.5 million every month.
Rail Park Mall houses 115 shops with Choppies and Food Lovers Mart occupying a much bigger space. It cost about 192 million to build the mall, which was built on a plot that measures 80,830 square metres.