Namibia’s Railway Upgrade To Take Four Years

Namibia estimates that it will take four years to upgrade railway infrastructure under a project funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Namibian government. The AfDB will fund the project with N$3,7 billion, the Namibian government will provide N$3,4 billion while the AfDB will provide a further N$5 million under its Middle Income Country Technical Assistance Fund.

Director of Railway Infrastructure Management in the Minister of Works and Transport, Robert Kalomho said in an interview that the expected length of the railway line to be upgraded is approximately 220 km, which is the section between Kranzberg in the uranium producing, Erongo Region to Otjiwarongo in central Namibia.

Kalomho explained that the benefits of the upgrade will include railway infrastructure, eliminated train speed restrictions, elimination of bottlenecks in the transport sector, improved operational efficiency, operational safety and sustainability.

The government is at the procurement stage with some activities and no implementation of any activity has yet started, except preparation and compilation of solicitation documents, he added. Kalomho said approximately 50% of Namibia’s railway network needs to be upgraded. Namibia’s railway lines stretch a total length of 2687 km across the country. The government owns rail infrastructure whilst TransNamib is the sole operator.

The AfDB approved the loan for Namibia to implement the second phase of its Transport Infrastructure Improvement Project (TIIP) in 2023.

The project aligns with Namibia’s logistics value chain by tackling railway infrastructure bottlenecks. The works include constructing 16 bridges, renovating two stations, and procuring 55,000 tonnes of rails to build tracks. Other components include modernising the railway signalling system along the Walvis Bay-Tsumeb line to improve its reliability, safety and capacity, as well as the overall performance of the railway system.

The AfDB said most of the upgraded railway line crosses commercial agricultural land and many urban areas. Transporters, agricultural communities and industries along the corridor will benefit from faster commuting thanks to affordable, reliable, safe rail transport that will boost regional and national development. Road maintenance costs are also expected to reduce as bulk cargo transporters shift from road to rail.

Giving an update on the proposed Trans-Zambezi Railway Extension-Grootfontein-Rundu-Katima Mulilo railway project, Kalomho said a feasibility study was completed in 2022. Namibia and Zambia are currently working on the terms of reference to establish a Joint Technical Committee that will spearhead necessary processes of the Trans-Zambezi Railway Link, Kalomho added.

Written by Chamwe Kaira for Railways Africa Magazine

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