Transnet and Swazi Rail confirmed on Thursday that they planned to move ahead with a R16-billion to R17-billion greenfield railway project between Lothair, in South Africa, and Sidvokodvo, in Swaziland – the single line was currently scheduled to be commissioned in 2016, with an initial yearly capacity of 15-million tons.
The 146-km link would divert general freight currently being moved on the Ermelo-Richards Bay line through Swaziland, thereby increasing the capacity of South Africa’s capacity constrained coal channel from Mpumalanga to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT), in KwaZulu-Natal to what Transnet CEO Brian Molefe said would be ‘close to 100-million tons’. Currently, the coal line had the capacity to move about 72-million tons – well below the 91-million-ton nameplate capacity of the privately owned RBCT.
Engineering and funding
Detailed engineering for the project, which was receiving strong backing from the South African and Swaziland governments, still had to be completed, and environmental approvals obtained. In addition, land would have to be acquired, while some resettlements were also possible.
However, South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba and Public Works and Transport Minister Ntuthuko Dlamini made a public commitment to doing all in their power to ensure that these issues were dealt with expeditiously. The two youthful ministers have also promised to support project fundraising efforts, with Transnet expected to contribute some R12-billion and Swazi Rail about R5-billion.
‘We are determined to drive this project hard to ensure its speedy implementation as it will create jobs on both sides and, on the South African side, it will further enable the unlocking of the long-awaited Waterberg coal line,’ Gigaba said.
Reported by Engineering News