Govt kick-starts N$1b railway rehabilitation

By Hilary Mare

GOVERNMENT has officially commenced the upgrade of the railway line between Walvis Bay and Kranzberg at Arandis which is an investment estimated at N$1 billion.

The commencement launched by the Minister of Works and Transport, John Mutorwa, the project would cover a total length of 107.5km with the construction period expected to last 821 days.

The upgrade is one of the key national development projects that the government is undertaking to develop Namibia into the preferred logistics hub for the SADC region. The project is funded by the Namibian government with 56 percent of its own funds and 44 percent coming as an African Development Bank loan.

Mutorwa said that continuous investment in infrastructure development is a key priority of the government, which will stimulate economic growth and improve the country’s competitiveness on the international logistics arena. The minister furthermore encouraged industry representatives to form strategic alliances in order to successfully realise national development plans.

Chief Executive Officer of TransNamib, Johny Smith noted that TransNamib supports and welcomes the upgrading of the railway line.

“The Walvis Bay – Kranzberg line is one of the biggest lines for TransNamib since it feeds from the port to the hinterland.  It is a strategically located route, allowing us to move bulk goods from the port to other areas in Namibia.  TransNamib is favourably positioned in terms of the amount of cargo it can move and its connectivity in its routes to strategic business hubs within and outside Namibia to countries such as South Africa, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Smith.

The three-year rail rehabilitation project will enable freight trains to run at up to 80 km/h and passenger trains at up to 100 km/h. The 1 067 mm gauge line was last upgraded in the 1960s. Its current condition imposes speed restrictions and increases the cost of transporting goods inland from the port.

“This project in the context of Namibia’s Logistics Hub Master Plan and Integrated Transport Master Plan is a key infrastructure element to realise our Logistics Hub ambitions by adding additional capacity for the railway mode of transport,” WBCG’s projects manager, Gilbert Boois stated.

He further noted that railway line upgrade will induce and stimulate demand for modal shift towards rail and improve our economies of scale, and in so doing enhance the competitiveness of our corridor.

“We are proud to announce that the WBCG’s Wellness Service was recently appointed as the main consultant to develop an HIV/AIDS sensitisation programme targeting employees working along the railway line between Walvis Bay and Kranzberg. The Wellness Service deployed two wellness mobile clinics to showcase their service offerings to invited guests at the ceremony”.