WINDHOEK ÔÇô Despite being regarded as one of the less-costly route in the region, the Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC) is said to be recording low traffic volumes compared to other routes such as the one that starts at the Durban Port ÔÇô South Africa.
The corridor ÔÇô a tripartite trans-boundary between South Africa, Namibia and Botswana ÔÇô 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 Walvis Bay Port also houses Botswana’s Dry Port which became fully operational some two years back.
Leslie Mpofu, Executive Director at the TKC secretariat said this past week that the corridor is known for providing a short transport link across the entire breadth of the South African Sub-continent.
According to Mpofu, due to the proximity to the west, shipping costs to and from Walvis Bay are the most competitive in the region (6% less). It is estimated that trucking costs are also very competitive when compared to other routes in the region which are 30 more percent higher while handling fees through TKC are said to be 15 percent less.
Compared to the traditional routes via southern Namibia to South Africa’s Gauteng, the corridor cuts the distance by 400 kilometers, making it a more preferred route and providing cost effective logistical advantages to users.
On the other side, trade volumes along the Corridor for the Botswana market are said to have hit a record high of more than 2 000 tonnes in 2015. It has shown significant growth year on year, with many more consumables and especially a steep increase in motor vehicles being imported through the port of Walvis Bay.
The Trans-Kalahari Corridor was jointly built by the Namibian and Botswana governments in the 1990s with an initial investment of approximately P650 million.
Mpofu said Wednesday that, there are a number of developments going on at the corridor, which are expected to transform it from being a white elephant. He further said that the villages along the corridor should also economically benefit through trade and employment creation.
Amongst other development s that are to be carried in or near villages along the corridors include Truck ports as well as wellness centres. Already Walvis Bay, Gobabis on the Namibian side as well as CharlessHill, Kang, Sekoma, Jwaneng, Lobatse (Botswana) and Zeerust (South Africa) have been identified as places that will get truck ports.
Meanwhile Preparations are said to still be underway to commission the Trans-Kalahari Railway Project Management Office in Windhoek as the key initial phase for the launch and management of the long-awaited multi-billion Pula railway line between Botswana and Namibia.
The governments of the two countries signed a bilateral agreement in March 2014, paving the way for the facilitation and the construction of a new ‘heavy haul’ 1 500 kilometre railway line stretching from Botswana’s Mmamabula coalfields to Walvis Bay.
According to economists, economic growth in Botswana is expected to be boosted by Chinese and Indian demand for the more than 200 billion metric tonnes of coal in the central Karoo basin. Alternative export options for Botswana include transporting the coal by rail to either South Africa’s Richards Bay or the port of Beira in Mozambique.