Botswana to start construction of new rail line linking Mmamabula to South Africa, Zambia

Botswana is advancing the construction of a new railway line that will link Mmamabula coal fields in the centre of the country to Lephalale in South Africa.

The new line will also link Botswana from Mosetse with Zambia through Kazungula. This effectively creates a line running from South Africa to Zambia via Botswana. Appearing before a parliamentary committee last week, Botswana Railways (BR) CEO, Leonard Makwinja said the route made economic sense.

“That would be a shorter route for our big commodities. It makes more sense to build a shorter route rather than build another one parallel to the Mafikeng one,” said Makwinja in reference to an existing rail link.

Construction of the new line will begin in April 2021, and it will include a 4 km bridge over the Limpopo River. Makwinja said over a billion tonnes of coal deposits had been discovered in Botswana, and the new rail line was needed because the existing link has the capacity to move 4,5 million tonnes per annum.

As such, the new railway line will be an addition to the government-owned 800+ km of rail network. Makwinja said there was no need to panic about the steady global shift to renewable energy sources, explaining that the world was also moving towards “clean coal technologies”.

“There is what is called clean coal technology. You can use technology to clean coal, and that is what is going to drive the demand for coal,” he said.


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