Sunday, February 28, 2021

‘BR passenger train will be back on the tracks next year’

Five years after terminating the operations of its commercial passenger trains, Botswana Railways (BR) will resume the service.

Commercial passenger train services were curtailed in early 2009.

President Ian Khama on Tuesday announced that BR will reinstate the passenger train service to Batswana before the end of 2015.

Speaking at the official launch of Botswana Oil Limited company, Khama said that this comes in tandem with the signing of the Trans Kalahari rail project management agreement on September 4 2014 by Botswana and Namibia to establish a TKR Project management office before the end of this financial year.

This will facilitate the implementation of the Trans Kalahari Rail and associated port facilities in Botswana and Namibia.

“Government is conscious of the fact that companies are in their very nature there to ensure that they make a reasonable return on their investment for their shareholders,” said Khama.
He stated that it is against that background that their investment decisions are commercially focused and as such they may decide to invest or divest as they see fit based on commercial reasons or interests.

Currently led by Chief Executive Officer Dominic Ntwayagae since 2012, Botswana Railways has been also 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.

Ntwayagae will steer implementation of the decision to reintroduce the passenger train service, which was suspended as BR was blighted by losses.

Resumption of passenger trains would “ease traffic, providing alternative mode of transport”.
Ntwayaagae was appointed CEO on the back of sterling work within the parastatal, after saving the troubled company about P25 million in settlement agreement costs on the Safeworking System Project.

Initial exposure to BR on the matter was P29.9 million in penalties whereas the final settlement ended up being only P4.5 million in 2008.

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