Much anticipated Walvis Bay – Kranzberg railway upgrade project to commence

The much anticipated rehabilitation project of the Walvis Bay to Kranzberg (Usakos) railway line, stretching close to 200km, is due to commence. A ground-breaking ceremony for this multi-million Namibian Dollar project took place at Arandis, with transport minister John Mutorwa and TransNamib chief executive Johny Smith among the guests of honour.

The project was due to start at the beginning of 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic brought the project to a total halt.
Currently the railway line can only handle low carriage axel load. Some segments of the line are in such a poor condition that train speeds are dramatically reduced. The rehabilitation project would ensure trains’ traveling times would be slashed by 30 % and axel loads can increase to around 18,5 tons per axel.
In his keynote address, Minister John Mutorwa explained the critical importance of efficient cargo flows between the port of Walvis Bay and landlocked neighbouring countries in Southern Africa. In this instance an upgraded railway line plays an important role. In fact, several major shipping lines made it a pre-requisite for an efficient railway line before including Walvis Bay in their schedules.
Minister Mutorwa pointed out the upgrading work is divided into two parts (also referred to as packages). Part 1 stretches from Walvis Bay to Arandis. Part 2 is from Arandis to Kranzberg, which is situated east of Usakos. Two separate contractors were appointed for the project, to ensure a fair distribution of work. Supplying the rails and turnouts is a separate contract.
“The scope of work includes rails, sleepers, bal-last and turnout replacement, foundation strengthening and widening at pre-determined segments”, Mutorwa explained.
The project is due for completion in 2022.
Minister Mutorwa further explained only half of Namibia’s railway network of 2 630 kilometres meets SADC quality requirements. Hence, more upgrade works to the rail network will be carried out towards the end of 2030. Namibia’s Vision 2030 requires the country’s transport network, and ports to be up to standard in order for Namibia to become a logistics hub between overseas markets and landlocked countries in the SADC like Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Namibia is well on its way to achieve this by 2030. One of the fine examples is the upgrade of the Lüderitz railway line. This positions Lüderitz now as a hub for the export of mining products from South Africa’s mineral rich Northern Cape. Manganese mined in the Northern Cape is already exported through Lüderitz. South African produced iron ore, fruit, wine and meat could be the next.

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