Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Namibia unhappy with Botswana over long proposed Trans-Kalahari Railway line?

The Chief Executive Officer of Transnamib Johny Smith has expressed concern that the Botswana Government is delaying to kick start the long awaited railway line that will connect the two countries.

 The long proposed multi-billion Trans-Kalahari Railway line project envisaged to connect Namibia and Botswana via the western harbour town of Walvis Bay and the existing railway line in eastern Botswana has still not taken off.

This is notwithstanding the two countries signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the development of the 1,500 km railway line four years ago.  

Speaking to The Telegraph last week Smith accused Botswana Government of being responsible for the delay to kick off the Trans Kalahari railway line project which has been on the cards for over fifteen years.

He said Botswana government decided otherwise and reprioritized its own projects and that somehow delayed the project to commence.

Smith explained that both the feasibility study and the planning phase have long been conducted and what is needed is for the engineers to be on the site.

“Early next year 2019, the two governments are expected to meet in Namibia to discuss the project further,” he said.

He said his TransNamib has long set up a team of professionals in the capital city Windhoek which has been assigned to make sure that the project does not stall but Botswana has not sent anybody to be part of their team.

“I am optimistic that the project will kick-start, it will take about five years to be completed,” said Smith.

Botswana Railways CEO Leonard Makwinja said that the project is “not dead” as it has potential.

He stated that at the two governments held talks and Botswana Railways was not involved.

He said and now the situation has been rectified to involve Botswana Railways all time as part of the negotiations team.

He revealed that the Trans Kalahari railway line project is not yet a priority because currently Botswana Railways is engaged in a multi million Pula Mosetse/Kazungula railway line that has been sponsored by the Chinese government.

Makwinja said that sometime next week he has to meet with the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Transport and Communication Kabelo Ebineng to discuss the rail way line that will connect both Botswana and Namibia.

The governments of Namibia and Botswana signed the MoU in March 2014 to start the joint venture, which was to see the successful construction of the Trans-Kalahari Railway line worth R100 billion.

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