Chinese government eyes investments in P15 billion railway line

Chedza Mmolawa

Speaking at the Botswana Railways (BR) Business Pitso on Monday in Gaborone, BR Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Leonard Makwinja said Botswana railways is open to partner with private investors in their upcoming major projects.

He said during the recent state visit to China, its government indicated capacity and willingness to participate in the Mosetse-Kazungula rail line.

The mandate of the pitso was to invite stakeholders from different economic sectors to give an update on two of their biggest projects in an effort to establish partnerships and investment. Makwinja explained that the two major projects are the 367km Mosetse  to Kazungula  rail  line  and  the  56km  Mmamabula to Lephalale line. He said an estimated P13 billion will be spent on design and supervision, construction and the project management office of the Mosetse to Kazungula rail link alone, while P2 billion will also be spent on the construction, design and supervision as well as project management of the Mmamabula to Lephalale rail link, totaling  P15 billion for both projects.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Kabelo Ebineng, warned BR and its potential investors against corruption tendencies as has become the norm in doing business in Botswana. He said it is highly important for the business community to desist from engaging in misappropriation of funds for the benefit of a few selected people. Ebineng assured attendants that Botswana Railways is in a strategic position to turn this hitherto ‘landlocked’ country into a hub for rail transport and logistics. He said this is one of the activities the country has to look forward to as they prepare for a journey that will take them into the horizon of 2036, where Botswana will be a high income and beehive of economic activity. He said the two major projects are capital intensive projects that needed them to think outside the box and approach the private sector so that they may find synergies and areas of collaboration.

“You are all aware that the Kazungula bridge which has both the road and rail components is nearing completion hence the  need for us to give impetus to the Mosetse-Kazungula Rail Line construction. As a government this railway line is very strategic to our quest for regional integration, it will connect us with the rest of the North African Markets through Zambia. The Mmamabula-  Lephalale is another project that is so central to us as a government. I am also aware of the high appetite for this project within the coal mining entities as this will represent the shortest route for the North South Corridor,” he said.