Linking up Namibia and Zambia

Transport infrastructure necessary to link Namibia with the rest of the region has attracted significant investment.

18 August 2019 | Infrastructure

Johny Smith; TransNamib CEO; “. . . could see more than three million tonnes moved annually on this corridor.”

Great strides have been made to develop Namibian roadways, and in particular the Port of Walvis Bay with its new offshore container terminal ready to commence business in August.

Balancing the movement of cargo between road and rail is crucial, says the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG).

The further upgrade and expansion of rail infrastructure are thus envisaged with the railway line between Namibia and Zambia, via the Zambezi region identified as a key strategic project.

Zambia is investing in the expansion of their railway system network, that includes the 200 km Livingstone - Kazungula - Sesheke rail project and the 800 km Solwezi - Kaoma - Sesheke western rail project, to link the country with Namibia up to the Port of Walvis Bay.

This initiative is a deliberate move to link new mines and mining activities that are not already connected to the railway grid and network along the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor.

On the Namibian side the rail link to Zambia stops in Grootfontein. Plans for the 767 km Grootfontein - Rundu - Katima Mulilo railway line is already in motion.

Government, with the assistance of Nepad, has scheduled the feasibility study which is set to commence later this year.

TransNamib strategy

TransNamib chief executive officer Johny Smith recently detailed the company’s new strategy aimed at unlocking the property value of the national rail operator in order to create a good return on investment.

At the WBCG’s stakeholder engagement session held in Grootfontein, Smith said that TransNamib is availing warehousing facilities located at stations countrywide and offering it to private sector logistics companies to operate these as logistics centres.

“The move falls in line with Namibia’s Logistics Hub Master Plan, which specifies the creation of decentralised logistics centres across the country to ensure Namibia as a country becomes a logistics hub and not only the coastal and central regions.”

He said Namibia’s cross border rail services need to be improved and pointed out that Namibia has one corridor with a cross border rail connection, the Trans Oranje which links Lüderitz to the Northern Cape of South Africa.

“This line has been dormant for 18 years. TransNamib recently employed 100 new employees to revive operations on this line. The commodity best suited for this corridor is the manganese mined in the Cape which could see more than three million tonnes moved annually on this corridor.”

The first shipment of Northern Cape manganese was moved from Ariamsvlei to Lüderitz recently. The rail shipment filled 20 wagons loaded with 26 tonnes of manganese per wagon and was pulled by two locomotives.

“This Pit-to-Port logistic solution ensures that a minimum of 30 000 metric tons of manganese concentrate will be railed via this route every month. The advent of this national project has resulted in TransNamib recruiting more than 150 people. A plethora of spin-off business activities are also expected to be generated out of this new business venture, especially in Ariamsvlei, Keetmanshoop, Aus and Lüderitz”

Further development of the other rail connections to the neighbouring countries planned includes the Trans Kalahari corridor and Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi development corridor.

“The Trans Kalahari Railway (TKR) line currently stops at Gobabis. Collaboration between Namibia and Botswana has seen the completion of the feasibility study for this line.

A project office has been established in Windhoek and funding for this project needs to be secured to build the line.

The Trans Cunene railway line is complete up to the border in Oshikango and Angola now has to build their section of the line.

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