BOTSWANA is to construct a new heavy haul railway that will link the country’s Mmamabula area with South Africa’s Lephalale coalfields.
Minister of Transport and Communications, Dorcas Makgato confirmed the reports and said the project is aimed at linking coal deposits in both areas with South African heavy haul lines and also become a gateway to South African ports for the coal market and link Botswana’s mines to the Transnet Freight Rail network.
‘In order to unlock regional growth, a corridor approach is a must. The proposed link between Mmamabula in Botswana and Lephalale in South Africa would stimulate the economies of Botswana and South Africa,’ said Dorcas Makgato.
Heavy haul railway project
The Minister termed the general development of this transport infrastructure as key to the development of regional integration and trade and that the Mmamabula–Lephalale corridor will create an alternative route for exportation of commodities in and outside the two states.
‘Our economy cannot exist on its own. A link will boost the economies of both countries as well as the region,’ said Makgato. She added that Botswana’s coal resources were estimated to be extensive, standing at 213 billion tonnes, making up two-thirds of the coal on the African continent.
She said the Karoo Super Group covered about 70 percent of the landlocked country. The government is making efforts to attract prospective investors in the broad coal sector with a set of attractive incentives.
The minister reiterated that there was a need for the country to focus and invest in infrastructure and equipment that could move coal to the market. The landlocked country, which has a population of more than two million people, has a strong government-led focus to diversify the economy, which is predominantly mining-driven.
Botswana has a government owned rail network of more than 800 km of rails, making it the second in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of per capita density (after Gabon and before South Africa).