Work to build a western rail link connecting Eswatini’s commercial and industrial hub of Matsapha to Lothair in South Africa took a step forward this week. A process to move communities located along the path of the line started this week.
The Eswatini side of the bi-national project has allocated Emalangeni 213 million to construct homes of about 100 people and compensate residents to be affected with the 150 km line is constructed.
Eswatini Minister of Works and Communications Chief Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe said the project is part of the SADC regional integration process that seeks at ensuring that goods brought by rain are not stranded at any point within member states.
The two-country partnership first announced in 2017 will see the construction of a 150km railway line from Lothair (Mpumalanga) to Sidvokodvo (Eswatini) near the industrial capital of Matsapha.
The new line which will reroute bulk traffic, mostly rough cargo of coal and other minerals export from South Africa through 100km of rail in Eswatini to the port of Richards Bay. At least 50km of the project will be inside South Africa where it will also require the revamping of adjacent existing lines to align and provide support to the new link. The new line will result in a major decongestion of the commercial rail line from Gauteng to Durban.
To clear the way for civil works to start, Eswatini Railways is building at least 100 homes, 3 churches in 14 chiefdoms spread through 4 tinkhundla (administrative locations).
A member of the community and one of those affected by the development said it was very painful when they were informed of the decisions to move them. “But we are now grateful because we can see it has brought development and improvement to our lives. The railway is rebuilding our homes and will build us schools”.
Bonginkosi Masango of Transnet who attended the site inspection by the Eswatini Minister of Works and Communications said the project construction would employs 6000 people.
Meanwhile, the new Eswatini Airline started flying to Harare, Zimbabwe for the first time today.