Rail goods transport on a downward spiral

The woes of loss makingparastatal, BotswanaRailways continued tobe compounded as goods transportedthrough rail continueto see a decline. According toStatistics Botswana’s ( SB) fi rstquarter Transport InfrastructureStatistics, rail transport continuesto fair badly in comparisonsto other mediums.According to the assessmentby SB released last week,“There was a 2.9 per cent decreasein total rail goods traffic; it decreased from 483,518 recorded in Q4 of 2012 to469, 457 recorded in Q1 2013.Goods traffi c comprised mainlyof Imports which accounted for45.8 per cent of all the goods.


Exports and local traffi c goodsaccounted for 30.8 and 19.4 percent of the goods traffi c respectivelywhile Transit traffi c accountedfor 4.0 per cent only.”SB states that this decline is acontinuous spiral as they saidgoods being transported by railshow a downward trend due toconvenience issues. “Althoughtransporting goods by rail ischeaper, there is still a preferencefor road transport becauseit has the advantage of transportinggoods to a point wherethey are needed unlike rail,” SBpoints out. On a year to yearbasis, the revenue generationdeclined but held up on a quarterto quarter basis according tothe report; “Revenue generatedfrom goods traffi c amounted toP74, 655 in Q1 of 2013, havingincreased by 7.9 per cent fromthe value of P69, 190 generatedin Q4 of 2012.


Compared to thesame quarter in the previous year,Q1 of 2013 recorded a decrease inrevenue generated; revenue in Q1of 2013 amounted to P74, 655, areduction of 3.5 per cent from theamount of P77, 336 generated inQ4 of 2012.” After having to retiremany of its trains due to agingand failure to maintain, BotswanaRailways has been on a missionto revive its ailing fortunes.The parastatal’s Chief ExecutiveOffi cer, Dominic Ntwaagaerevealed to the media that theywill be replenishing their fl eetwith 204 high-sided wagons, 34coal hoppers and 34 down-sidedwagons, at a cost of P300 million.It remains to be seen if thiscan fi nally get them back on trackas they have been going througha turnaround strategy for sevenyears.


The SB report also showeda decline on the number of peopletaking to the skies.“Total air passengers carriedwent down from 194,030 in Q4 of2012 to 165, 337 in Q1 of 2013,registering a fall in air passengertraffi c to 14.8 per cent. This resultedfrom international and domesticair passenger traffi c whichreduced by 15.3 per cent and 14.2per cent respectively in Q1 of2013.”The decline in air travel willnot be helped by the fact that AirNamibia suspended its Windhoek– Gaborone fl ight in the last weekof May this year.