OMARURU - Government has spent N$100 million per annum over the last decade on the rehabilitation of rails along the Walvis Bay-Kranzberg-Tsumeb line.
This came to light following transport minister John Mutorwa’s field trip on Friday to view the progress made on the Tsumeb-Kranzberg railway line.
TransNamib CEO Johny Smith said continuous development of rail infrastructure will allow TransNamib as the national rail service operator to have increased capacity.
“Rail remains an important element within the logistics sector as well as a critical enabler of our economy. With an improved rail line, TransNamib’s capacity will increase. The improvements to the line will allow trains to move faster, thus reducing the time in the movement of goods from Walvis Bay to Kranzberg. This increased efficiency will allow us to move more goods,” said Smith.
The railway forms part of the main rail corridor between Walvis Bay and northern Namibia as well as linking Namibia to Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.
The CEO stated that due to the line not fully being upgraded, about 1 012 broken rails were recorded over the entire railway section between Kranzberg and Tsumeb stations.
Smith added this increases the risk of derailments and, therefore, continuous maintenance needs to be done to ensure preventative measures and provide better management of this railway line at the moment.
“The rehabilitation of the line between Tsumeb and Kranzberg started in 2014 and more than 20km is still to be partially upgraded. For this section, only 61km (15%) of the full section of almost 410km is fully upgraded, 328km of this section is partially upgraded to 30kg rails and still requires 48kg rails in order for this line to be fully completed as well as some reconstruction of certain sections of the line,” Smith pointed out.
He noted that the Walvis Bay-Kranzberg rehabilitation of about 200km is close to completion, which should be done by end of the first quarter of 2023.
These upgrades, according to him, will allow TransNamib to transport more freight on this route in a much safer and faster means of transport, considering the current limitation through speed restrictions on this route.
Furthermore, Smith said the national rail provider remains grateful for government’s commitment to invest in the rehabilitation of railway infrastructure and has further also provided operational support to TransNamib during the course of this financial year.
“This is enabling TransNamib to improve its operational conditions to be able to increase the number of trains it has to move on a daily basis as well as improving its financial position,” said the CEO.
He also noted that the construction of a new railway line between Tsumeb and Ondangwa and Oshikango was completed in 2012.
On passenger services, Smith said TransNamib is planning to restart the Walvis Bay to the south of Namibia route in the festive season as it was on halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On his part, Mutorwa said infrastructure rehabilitation remains important today, tomorrow and for future generations.
“Transport infrastructure is the path to development. Let us remove challenges in our projects and move forward,” said Mutorwa.
The minister stated there are plans to rehabilitate the line that links Gobabis to Botswana and feasibility studies have been done.
Smith stated that TransNamib’s financial position will start improving as from the end of the current financial year.
They have a period of two to three years before moving into profitable levels.
In efforts to bring TransNamib back on track to profitability, Smith last year said the company needs N$2.6 billion for their five-year business plan to reach break-even by 2023.
In stating the company’s medium and long-term strategies, Smith explained the focus is to build a sustainable rail operator, successful road-to-rail strategy, develop public-private partnerships for commuter rail lines, upgrade rail network to SADC standards, develop rail lines to Botswana and Zambia and complete upgrading of the country’s railway network worth N$15 billion.