Trans-Kalahari railway on track
GABORONE – Namibia and Botswana will sign a final agreement on the construction of the proposed Trans-Kalahari railway in the next few weeks in Walvis Bay.
Namibia’s High Commissioner to Botswana and to SADC, Hadino Hishongwa, revealed this last Thursday when the Minister of Mines and Energy, Isak Katali, visited Botswana to formalise a memorandum of understanding on further cooperation between the two countries.
“We have concluded talks and negotiations on the proposed Trans-Kalahari railway, so next week … the agreement is going to be signed in Walvis Bay,” Hishongwa said when briefing Katali on achievements and challenges faced by the high commission.
“It was a marathon effort, it was really a struggle to make sure this project will be realised,” stressed Hishongwa.
Hishongwa said he believed the railway would be “wonderful” for Namibia and Botswana, plus the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, Zimbabwe and parts of South Africa that will all have an opportunity to transport their goods using the trans-frontier railway line.
“We believe that the port of Walvis Bay is one of the best in Southern Africa or perhaps Africa,” he said, adding that the port has receive awards from the United Nations because of the quality of service.
The proposed railway is meant to link Botswana’s Mmamabula coal mine with Walvis Bay.
“The railway project would contribute to economic development of the country by means of promoting regional trade and attracting direct investment from foreign investors,”he added.
He said the 1 500km railway will run parallel to the Trans-Kalahari highway but could not say when the construction work would start.
He also described the diplomatic relationship between the two countries as outstanding.
“In fact Botswana citizens take Namibia as their holiday destination. Last year it was reported that about 25 000 young Batswana went there,” said Hishongwa. He further urged Namibians to market the country on a positive note.
“We are not marketing our country well, if we do so we will have more and more tourists flocking to Namibia on a daily basis,” he said.
Another issue discussed by Hishongwa was the repatriation of the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu people who have shown interest to return to their country of origin.
“Some of these people have never seen Namibia but their forefathers were born there and they want to go back,” he explained.
“So far about 1 500 families have registered with my office,” he said.
In addition, Hishongwa said only 40 Namibians living in Botswana have registered at his office for the elections in November and urged those who have not yet registered to do so.
By Kuzeeko Tjitemisa