Friday, 05 August 2022 14:04

South Africa and Botswana join forces to improve rail freight links.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

South Africa and Botswana have agreed to collaborate to fix and expand rail infrastructure beneficial to both countries. 

In a statement released on Friday, Transnet said South Africa and Botswana have agreed in principle on joint development initiatives to be implemented by their respective rail operators in a bid to improve inter-trade between the two countries.

Transnet's announcement of the initiative comes on the back of the conclusion of the High Level South Africa-Botswana business roundtable, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, on Thursday.

"[The] two countries have agreed in principle on joint development initiatives to be implemented by Transnet Freight Rail and Botswana Rail to improve inter-trade between the two countries. The initiatives will allow landlocked Botswana to access South African ports in a more efficient manner," Transnet said.

The State-owned company explained that it and Botswana Rail will work together to "fix parts of the 126km rail line between Swartruggens and Mafikeng", which are both near the Botswana border.

"[This] will enable heavy haul trains travelling from Botswana to the ports of Richards Bay and Durban for export markets. This will be funded jointly by the two governments, with TFR and BR given the responsibility to implement the initiative.

"The objective is to have the project running in the next 24 months. The two entities will also build a connecting line from Mamabula in Botswana to Lephalale, Limpopo, currently running export coal to Richards Bay. TFR and BR will further collaborate on security interventions to curb the scourge of cable theft and infrastructure vandalism, a rising problem in Botswana and rampant in South Africa, which impact the efficient running of trains," Transnet said.