Beyond borders

Kitso Ramono
NEW ERA: Preparing for the maiden voyage

Botswana Railways launch new Bulawayo trade route

Botswana Railways have signed a potentially game-changing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with their Zimbabwean counterparts in an effort to improve service delivery between the two nations.

Under the new ‘cross-border’ agreement, local trains delivering goods to Zim will now be able to continue all the way to Bulawayo, while in-bound locomotives will be allowed through to Francistown.

Previously, all freight trains had to offload their cargo at Plumtree, where the goods would be transferred to another train – a changeover that regularly caused lengthy delays.

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Confident this frustration was now a thing of the past, the two entities put pen-to-paper in Francistown on Friday.

Speaking at the event, BR board member, Mmoloki Rramaeba described the milestone moment as long overdue.

Beyond borders
PUTTING PEN TO PAPER: BR hierarchy signing the MoU

“The status quo has been servicing us well enough, but there are times when the non-owning administration’s resources are stretched which in turn compromises the turnaround times. The joy of this agreement is that in situations where the non-owing administrator does not have sufficient resources, the owing administrator could proceed into the non owing administrator’s line with its freight and reach closer to the market,” said Rramaeba.

For her part, speaking via video link from Plumtree, National Railways for Zimbabwe (NRZ), General Manager, Respina Zinyanduko said the agreement will ensure smooth flow of traffic between the two countries.

“This will assist us greatly, and will especially benefit our customers. We had situations whereby traffic would go for three to four days waiting for locomotives from either side. With this agreement, we are going to have a situation whereby traffic does not stop at Plumtree but goes all the way to its destination thus bringing operational efficiency and also expediting movement of customers’ goods to their final destination,” said Zinyanduko.

Shortly after the Press Conference, the MoU burst into instant life, with a BR locomotive trickling out of the station for its maiden voyage to Bulawayo, carrying 20 wagons loaded with coal and salt destined for Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

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