New SA-Swazi rail­way line on track

The New Age (Gauteng) - - NEWS - DIKELEDI RAMABOPA dikeledir@the­

FIVE hun­dred graves and 235 house­holds are be­ing re­lo­cated to make way for a new rail­way line be­tween South Africa and Swaziland.

The In­ter Rail­way ini­tia­tive be­tween Transnet Freight Rail and Swaziland Rail­way, which en­tails the con­struc­tion of a 150km line from Lothair in Mpumalanga to Sid­vokodvo in Swaziland, is pro­gress­ing well and has achieved a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone.

This was re­vealed yes­ter­day at a me­dia brief­ing on the progress of the Swaziland Rail link (SRL) project at Transnet Freight Rail’s School of Rail in Es­se­len Park in Kemp­ton Park.

Transnet CEO Ravi Nair said there had been sig­nif­i­cant progress with the project.

The new line will be 50km long in South Africa and 100km in Swaziland and will also re­quire the re­vamp­ing of ad­ja­cent ex­ist­ing lines to align and pro­vide sup­port to the new link.

Swaziland im­ports more than 80% of its goods from South Africa, which in turn im­ports about 70% of Swaziland’s exports, which in­clude coal, sugar, beef and cit­rus fruits. How­ever, the new rail­way line will pre­dom­i­nantly trans­port coal.

The fea­si­bil­ity phase has been com­pleted and early works are un­der way, which this in­volves the re­lo­ca­tion of 500 graves and re­set­tle­ment plan­ning.

“The process of ex­hum­ing graves and re­lo­cat­ing them is be­ing done with ut­most re­spect and we are happy to say we have re­ceived co­op­er­a­tion from the com­mu­nity,” Nair said.

The project’s pri­mary ob­jec­tive is to re­duce road traf­fic con­ges­tion based on a re­al­is­tic and achiev­able sys­tem ca­pac­ity.

The tar­get is to ac­com­mo­date up to 26 tons and pro­vide ca­pac­ity for 12 trains each way per day in line with in­fra­struc­ture in­ter­ven­tions.

The project has al­ready cre­ated job op­por­tu­ni­ties on both sides of the bor­der. About 3 000 and 6 500 jobs will be cre­ated in South Africa and Swaziland re­spec­tively dur­ing con­struc­tion of the SRL rail­way.

Busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties to the value of about R1bn in South Africa and R1,7bn in Swaziland will be cre­ated.

A large amount of work has also been done in South Africa in­clud­ing the plans to re­set­tle the af­fected house­holds.

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