By Kuzeeko Tjitemisa WINDHOEK – Namibia’s High Commissioner to Botswana, Mbapeua Muvangua, says the Botswana government remains committed to the construction of the Trans-Kalahari railway line. Muvangua, who is the former chief of protocol at State House, was late last year appointed as high commissioner by outgoing President Hifikepunye Pohamba. He said that after he presented his credentials to President Ian Khama last week, it became very clear from discussions that the Botswana government is committed to the project. “There are a few things that need ironing out such as the funding by both governments but President Khama made it very clear to me that he wanted the project to start as soon as possible,” he said yesterday. “As we all know this project involves other stakeholders that need consultations but I am very confident the project is on track,” added Muvangua. Last week, National Planning Commission Permanent Secretary Andries Hungamo told New Era the project plans are at an advanced stage with the project office expected to be operational in February. “The office will be staffed by seconded staff from both parties,” he said. He said the project is being developed through a public-private partnership based on a DBOOT contractual arrangement whereby developer undertakes the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the project. “The developer operates the project over the concession period to recover its investment, operating and maintenance expenses for the project under such tariff structure as may be agreed upon in the concession agreement or the specific project regulatory framework; and developer transfers the project at the end of the concession period to the jointly owned company, which is composed of government agencies from both parties responsible for rail in their countries,” he explained. Early last year in Walvis Bay, a bilateral agreement was signed between the governments of Namibia and Botswana on the development of the Trans-Kalahari railway. Also, an agreement on the Trans-Kalahari project management office was signed in Gaborone and it was agreed that the office would be in Windhoek. The 1 500km railway line will traverse the vast semi-arid, sandy savannah of the Kalahari desert from Botswana to Namibia, with the sole benefit of connecting the landlocked Botswana to Namibia’s port of Walvis Bay, thus unlocking the value of coal mining in Botswana and power generation in the region. The railway line will mirror the existing Trans-Kalahari Highway or corridor, which links Botswana to Walvis Bay, and will stretch 1 900km from Walvis Bay through Windhoek, Gaborone in Botswana and Johannesburg to Pretoria in South Africa. Construction is expected to cost approximately N$100 billion. Financing will be sourced through private stakeholders. The Trans-Kalahari Highway was constructed at a cost of N$850 million and opened in 1998.
New Era Reporter
2015-02-10 07:29:22 3 years ago