Botswana, Mozambique And Zimbabwe Revive Inter-Regional Railway Plan

The governments of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)for the construction of a regional railway line to link Francistown in Botswana to the Mozambican port of Techobanine, through Bulawayo, in Zimbabwe.

Once completed, the Port Techobanine Inter-Regional Heavy Haul Railway Project would facilitate inter-regional trade through the movement of passenger rail traffic and up to 12 million tonnes of goods per annum through the three countries.

Botswana’s Minister of Minerals, Water and Energy, Kitso Mokaila, said the MoU that was signed in Bulawayo last Friday, committed each country to contribute $200 million towards the cost of the project. The rest of the work would be done through Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs), with the private sector taking the lead.

“The expectation is for the private sector to carry out the project. From now, the private sector will conduct a feasibility study and come up with something that can be bankable. The MoU will also help us regularise laws, as the railway line will pass through three countries,” Mokaila said.

The State-owned railway operators from the three countries would also take part. Mokaila represented Botswana at the signing ceremony.

Mozambique and Zimbabwe were represented by Transport Ministers Carlos Alberto Mesquita and Joram Gumbo respectively. The new project would upgrade an existing railway line which has an annual cargo handling capacity of 2 million tonnes.

As part of the project, the small Mozambican port of Techobanine, which lies 70km south of Maputo, would be upgraded to handle up to 200 million tonnes of diversified cargo, including passengers, annually. The railway corridor is expected to haul goods, which include fresh produce, fertilisers, crude oil and minerals.