Industrialisation impossible without railways

The Walvis Bay Corridor Group recently held its monthly forum, a platform where role players in both the public and private transport sectors share their plans, actions and discuss possible solutions going forward. At its latest forum, the rail network came under the spotlight as experts discussed developments.
This month’s forum was hosted in collaboration with the Ministry of Works and Transport, TransNamib, Botswana Railways and D&M Rail Construction. Several stakeholders from the public and private sector were in attendance to participate in the discussion on our rail sector.
Also speaking at the forum was TransNamib’s Acting Commercial Executive, Jason Shikalepo, who shared the Rail Operator’s key activities aimed at increasing reach and efficiency levels, addressing current bottlenecks and support of the national efforts to realize the envisaged Logistic Hub. “Action is very overdue. The rail sector is behind in this plan, but efforts are being made to rectify the situation,” he stated.
Namibia’s railway extends some 2 700 km countrywide. NDP4 requires TransNamib to double rail freight volume from a low base of 2 million tonnes per annum to 4.6 million tonnes per annum. As such, TransNamib has embarked on a number of projects to realize the objectives of the National Logistics Hub. This includes ‘bulk cargo handling’ as well as ‘infrastructure extension and upgrade’ that incorporates the Trans Kalahari Railway project.
Rail Consultant and WBCG Board member, Jack Dempsey, addressed the forum on the importance of a well developed and maintained railway infrastructure to promote regional integration. Dempsy outlined what a well developed rail infrastructure includes and detailed the current state of the Namibian Rail Network.
Stephen Makuke, the Director for Business Development at Botswana Railways noted that railways is a key component in economic development; “Without good roads and railways, industrialization is impossible”. Raising enough finance for infrastructure development is one of the key challenges facing rail. Makuke urged for smart partnerships and joint public and private investment in the development and maintenance of our rail. “This way, we will be in better shape to service trade demand,” he said.