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Swazi Rail Link Programme Director Timothy Ndlovu,(3rd from Right) flanked by [Ministry of Public Works, Economic Planning and Finance] planning officials during the tour of Swazi Rail Link Project, at Sidvokodvo Junction near Mangcongco area. 

During the recent tour on Swazi Rail Link Project, from 11th – 12th January 2017, Kennedy Shongwe from SRL Programme Manager presented the case for Swazi Rail Link that will connect Lothair Junction in Mpumalanga with Sidvokodvo Junction in Phuzumoya West, Swaziland. The Swazi Rail Link programme is a joint inter-railway strategic initiative between Transnet and Swaziland Railway. The programme is developed as a rail solution aimed at creating a General Freight Business (GFB) corridor for Transnet whilst providing much needed additional capacity for Swaziland Railway.  

SRL Programme Director, Timothy Ndlovu was in the company of a Joint Ministerial Planning Unit (Public Works and Transport, Finance, and Economic Planning) which toured the rail network for a detailed first-hand account and in-depth knowledge and understanding of the project and key milestones that have been achieved to date. The joint venture between Transnet and Swaziland Railways proposes 150km of track, 50km of which will be in South Africa and 100km in Swaziland. The project is currently valued at about R18 billion.

According to Ndlovu, the project’s main objective is to support a modal shift from road to rail and will improve integration of over-border logistics between South Africa and Swaziland. significantly improve freight capacity between the hinterland and the Richards Bay and Maputo ports, thereby contributing to the improvement of vital logistics chains in the SADC region, a strategic goal much supported by development agencies the world over. By building this strategic rail link, it is hoped that economic development in the area will follow, including the creation of local employment opportunities.

According to the project plan, the line will require the engineering and construction of some 222 structures. This includes 28 viaducts, 28 overbridges, 31 underpasses, 25 cattle creeps and 110 culverts, the majority of which will be situated in Swaziland. The initial feasibility study concluded in 2015 indicated that the project will require 1,218 hectares of land, 506Ha in South Africa and 713Ha in Swaziland, and will result in the disruption of approximately 500 households and 600 gravesites.

The project is currently in the detailed planning phase and offers to purchase land, planning for the relocation of households and gravesites, and application for environmental permits is underway. Early works, commissioning, and construction is expected to take 48 months. Initiation of construction is however still uncertain as Ndlovu explains: “the construction is going to be funded through Public Private Partnerships (PPP), and until we combine the requirements of all the interested parties, we cannot not be certain of when construction is going to begin. The message, for now, is that we have completed the feasibility study, results have shown that constructing this line is viable, and our funders have already given us the go ahead to undertake some of the early planning work.”

The following key milestones have been reached so far;

  • The completion of a concept study in 2011.
  • The completion of a pre-feasibility study in March 2013.
  • The completion of feasibility study around in March 2015.
  • Based on the outcome of the feasibility study, we envisage the commencement of the relocation of services including homes, resettlement of grave sites and other structures) in March 2017.
  • The targeted completion date is 2022.

Click here to download The Progress [Where we Are] document

Click here to download the Revised Timeline for the New Swazi Rail Link

Click here to download The Swazi Rail Link Plan document

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