Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Swaziland: Over E125m for Mpaka-Goba railway corridor

SWAZILAND railways has by far spent over E125m in the refurbishment of the Mpaka-Goba railway corridor.

Chief Executive Officer Gideon Mahlalela said the newly refurbishment tracks have the capacity to retain a good condition for the next five decades. He said the company decided to invest on the refurbishment of this railway line after placing a careful consideration in the stimulated and frequent usage of this route. He said it was also envisaged that in the near future, more companies are set to use the Goba corridor as their preferred route in transporting goods to overseas markets via Maputo.

Meanwhile, Mahlalela said with the country contemplating on embarking on a fully fledged iron ore mining industry, it was likely that this route would now be loaded with traffic, hence the refurbishment exercise.

Meanwhile, the Southern African Railways Association (SARA) Chief Executive Officer Bernard Dzawanda praised both the Swaziland Railway and Mozambique Railway Chief Executive Officers for the role they had played in ensuring an efficient use of rail transport in Southern Africa. “The partnership between the two railway companies is pertinent in the development of other countries in the region. Mahlalela is also one of SARA’s founding members and his passion in developing railways is very commendable,” he said.

Dzawanda said the Goba corridor was the only railway which had managed to reach the benchmarked expectations in the SADC region. “This is encouraging because railways were historically made to support economies and they still offer the cheapest services. This is very important for export development, and the transportation of goods from Swaziland to Maputo is certainly expected to increase and improve,” he said.

Dzawamba also mentioned that Malawi had developed problems with its railway system, and this had resulted in that country incurring over 55% of importation costs as a result of transport. He said if the country had a fully fledged railway industry, then these costs would have been significantly reduced because rail transport is very cost effective compared to road transport.

In another matter, the Mozambican High Commissioner to Swaziland said the abolishment of visa requirements between the two countries was the first step in reinforcing cooperation. Speaking during the train ride where the Swaziland Railway had invited stakeholders as a first step to exploring the opportunities provided by rail transport, he said he was boarding a train for the first time since 1978. This is because Mozambique’s railways were destroyed during the civil war.

“The refurbishment of the corridor and the commitment made by the two companies in restoring this route is a good step taken towards undertaking increased trade facilitation and certainly an increased use of railways,” he said.