The construction of the 1 500km Trans-Kalahari railway line is scheduled to commence in January 2025. This is according to transport officials from Namibia and Botswana, who met last week for a special joint ministerial committee (JMC) meeting on the project.
Botswana and Namibia entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in 2010 to facilitate the development of the Trans-Kalahari Railway Line (TKR) Link. In 2014, the two governments signed a bilateral agreement on the development of the trans-boundary line, with its associated coal storage, conveying, loading and other ancillary facilities. Towards the end of 2022, the two countries reaffirmed their commitment to the development of the multibillion-dollar project, which aims to link Botswana’s rich coal fields to the Namibian port of Walvis Bay.
At the invitation of works and transport minister John Mutorwa, his counterpart from Botswana Eric Molale attended and co-chaired the JMC in Windhoek this week on the TKR project.
The ministers agreed that an Expression of Interest (EOI) for the massive project will run from 6 September to 8 November 2023 for parties to express interest in participating.
The EOI will be followed by a pre-qualification stage between December 2023 and February 2024. This will then be followed by Requests for Proposals (RFP) for three months from March 2024, with the development or construction stage to commence in January 2025.
“There will be consultation with affected communities, and greater participation by companies and contractors from both countries during the conception, construction and implementation phases. The PMO (TKR-Project Management Office) will be responsible for running the advert, and will use available websites of the Member States’ Ministries of Transport, Railway Authorities, Investment Promotion Agencies (APIs) and their respective diplomatic missions abroad,” reads a joint statement from Namibia and Botswana’s transport ministries.
The communiqué reiterated the two countries’ commitment to realising the project, and the two ministers expressed their satisfaction with the work done thus far by rail authorities and senior officials.
The 1 500km railway line is envisaged to run from Mmamabula, Rasesa, towards Phuduhudu in Botswana, following the Trans-Kalahari Highway through the Mamuno border into Namibia via Gobabis, Windhoek, Okahandja to Walvis Bay as the final destination.
The two countries have also pledged to grow freight volumes between Walvis Bay and Gobabis to support imports and exports for Botswana with the support of the dry port.
Mutorwa then invited Molale to the next JMC meeting scheduled for 24 November 2023 at a venue to be determined.