By Risco Lumamezi
A full Feasibility Study for the new railway line project called Trans – Zambezi Railway Extension Grootfontein – Rundu – Katima Mulilo which currently under way, is expected to complete March 2022.
This was confirmed by Mr. Robert Kalomho, Director of Railway Infrastructure Management in the Ministry of Works and Transport.
According to Mr. Kalomho, this feasibility study to bring a new Railway Line network that will link Namibia to Zambia and the Southern Africa, is still at a feasibility stage. And the outcome of the study will guide the Government of the Republic of Namibia about the quantum of financial resources to source.
When asked to clear the financial implications which are in place in order to bring this railway line on the table. “The more reasonable projected financial project outlay cost will be better estimated once detailed investigations, detailed engineering designs, environmental costs implications, amongst others, based on the agreed to route alignment has been done.” He explained
He however lashed out tender allegations saying that “Only once the study is completed, and financial resources secured, can tender advertisements for construction be considered.”
This paper has established that the pre-feasibility study for the railway started in 2010, and asked what caused some delays. “I don’t believe there has been a delay anyway, as projects are prioritized accordingly based on the available competing resources.”
In 2020, a Canadian Consultancy firm called MR Technofin Consultants was tendered to do the full feasibility study meant to determine the technical, physical and financial viability of constructing such a railway line, which thereof the construction stage of this project will follow.
“The consultant is still busy with the study”.
In his view as the Director of the project, mentioned that this railway line will connect to Kazungula Border post bordering Botswana and Zambia, when asked about who to bear all construction costs and designs across or beyond the Namibian borders Mr. Kalomho has this to say “The point of connection has not yet been determined or agreed to, but Kazungula Bridge is one such potential point, hence me making reference to it. The outcome of the study will hopefully provide the Government with connection point options”.
“There will be a bilateral and multilateral engagements between the countries on matters related to cost implications, and railway connections amongst others”
Mr. Kalomho further concluded and assured the Namibian nation that the dream of the new railway line to link Namibia with SADC is a long term project that will take decades to achieve it “Projects of this nature and magnitude has a milliard of factors to consider before actual implementation.
It may seem that it is taking long to implement the project however, all processes have to properly followed in order to make sure that the end product is beneficial to all Namibians and the supports regional integration; especially SADC.”
On April 13, this year Minister of Works and Transport John Mutorwa delivered a Ministerial Parliamentary Policy Statement in the National Assembly where he presented the Progress Review of the Feasibility Study, for the Railway Extension or Link – The Trans-Zambezi Railway Line that His Ministry has completed the procurement process in appointing the Consultant.
He said, the contract for Consultancy Services were signed on March 10, 2021 with MR Technofin Consultants, from Canada which commenced its work in March 2021.
“The government of the Republic of Namibia has received a loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) towards the implementation of the Transport Infrastructure Improving Project (TIIO) for which the Ministry of Works and Transport is the Executing Agency. The TIIP is Co-Funded by the government of the Republic of Namibia and AfDB.”
“One of the project’s components that is being Co-Funded by the GRN and AfDB, is the feasibility Study for the Railway Link between Namibia and the other SADC neighbouring countries”
In his motivational speech Mr. Mutorwa emphasised that “Trans -Zambezi Extension of Namibia Railway Grootfontein-Rundu-Katima Mulilo is for attracting to the port of Walvis Bay additional Freight mainly from to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Southern DRC and Angola”
He stressed that the largest commodities targeted are minerals exported from the region, complemented by other imports and regional trade.
Works and Transport Minister further said that railway networks need time to realise their operations and this can be improved from the already existing infrastructures “Rails projects generally require long implementation period and relatively large investments. The purpose of this task is to consider a multi-modal rail-road option which could be implemented in the Mid-term taking advantage of existing road and rail infrastructure and equipment required for achieving efficient and competitive road and rail transport for identified commodities and origins destinations.”