Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

7 December 2012

Namibia: Transnamib - Railway Pioneer

Since the first State Railways was established in Namibia 115 years ago, rail transport has played a pioneering role in the development of Namibia. Times have changed, and although the role of railways has changed significantly from the early days, it remains a very prominent enabling factor for development in a country with vast distances and rich mineral resources.

With the required investments in infrastructure and equipment, TransNamib Holdings as the operator of the Namibian railway system will carry forward the legacy of pioneering, serving the Namibian economy and its people, and playing its rightful role in the achievement of Government objectives as per NDP4 and Vision 2030.

TransNamib, the National Carrier of Namibia, was founded on 01 July 1988, at the time known as the National Transport Corporation, to take over the responsibility from the South African Railways for the operation of the state-owned railway and road transport services in Namibia. The name was later changed to TransNamib Holdings Limited with effect from 01 July 1998.

Much has been achieved by TransNamib as the proud carrier of the Namibian flag over the past 24 years to serve the Namibian economy and the public as a totally independent operator in the best national interest of the Republic and its people.

Rail Network

The Namibian railway network spans a total route distance of 2628 km, with a further 140 km to be added once the section between Aus and Lüderitz has been reconstructed by 2014. To ensure train services can operate 24 hours on every day of the year, railway maintenance units are deployed throughout Namibia to keep the railway network operational.

Any emergency is attended to on a 24/7 basis and the TransNamib maintenance units have proved their professionalism and dedication over the years to re-open the rail network in the shortest possible time after disruptions such as flood damages or derailments even under very harsh climatic conditions.

Certain sections of the Namibian rail system require upgrading as they have reached the end of their economic lifespan. For example, the Tsumeb - Kranzberg section, here TransNamib has succeeded to keep the wheels rolling. Most of its network sets an example to other railways in the SADC region in terms of its operability and standards.

Intermodal

TransNamib has always been admired by others in the SADC region for its well established intermodal operations whereby a combination of road and rail services are offered, providing a true door-to-door service to its customers.

Intermodal operations were expanded over the years with state of the art inland terminals at Windhoek (WINCON Terminal), Ondangwa and Oshikango. There are also other smaller terminals at Keetmanshoop, Aus, Otjiwarongo, Tsumeb and Grootfontein. These terminals are equipped with 45-ton reach stackers, gantry cranes, truck tractors, trailers, forklifts and container side loader wagons for delivering of containers on ground level at customer sites and collection again from there.

Key Economic Role

TransNamib as the National Carrier plays a crucial role in the Namibian economy as the major transporter of key commodities such as bulk fuel, chemicals, cement, mining products, agricultural products and containerized commodities.

The Namibian economy is dependent on reliable and economical distribution of fuel supplies to all economic centres throughout the vast territory of the country. Inland fuel depots are strategically located along the railway network providing a critical link for fuel supplies between the Port of Walvisbay and consumers. TransNamib has over the years fulfilled its role as the major conveyor of fuel with pride, and has never failed Namibia and its people in keeping the wheels of the economy rolling.

As a developing country with vast resources and remote underdeveloped areas, Namibia is reliant on a well-functioning, economic and reliable transport system. Mining products need to be conveyed over long distances in bulk to Ports or processing plants.

TransNamib has with its rail service fulfilled this role with dedication, and has been instrumental in sustaining industries especially the mining sector through difficult economic times. The viability of many new mines to be developed is totally reliant on a rail system due to cost and safety considerations and TransNamib is well positioned and committed to serve Namibia as one of the most important enabling factors for such developments.

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