Learn about Eswatini Railways’ role in showcasing the almost extinct Ironwood forest in Siweni. Explore the memorable moments created on this remarkable occasion!

It has come to our attention that there have been incidents involving the unauthorised stoppage of trains, theft of fuel, and vandalism of railway property, perpetrated by individuals posing as employees of Eswatini Railways. We would like to emphatically state that Eswatini Railways and its genuine employees are not in the business of selling fuel, and any such activities are not only unauthorised but also illegal. 

We are deeply concerned about the safety risks and disruptions caused by these incidents, and we wish to inform and warn the public against engaging in or supporting such activities. 

The unauthorised stoppage of trains not only affects the efficiency of our services but also poses significant safety hazards. Theft of fuel and vandalism not only compromise the integrity of our operations but also endangers the well-being of the community where the railway line traverses. 

We would like to make it unequivocally clear that Eswatini Railways does not endorse or participate in the sale of fuel to the public. Any claims or representations suggesting otherwise are false. 

We are actively working with law enforcement agencies to investigate and address these incidents, and those found responsible will face legal consequences. 

Furthermore, we caution individuals against encroaching on the railway servitude for any business activities. 

The railway servitude is designated for railway operations, and any unauthorised activities pose a threat to the safety of both the public and our operations. We strongly discourage any attempts to engage in business or other activities along the railway lines without proper authorisation. 

We appreciate the cooperation of the community in reporting any suspicious activities related to unauthorised train stoppages, fuel theft, or vandalism along our railway lines. Your vigilance will contribute to maintaining the safety and integrity of our railway operations. 

We remain committed to providing safe and reliable railway services to the country and will take all necessary measures to address and prevent these unauthorised activities.

Sidvokodvo Coal Operation
In January 2023 Eswatini Railways achieved a landmark 1 million tonnes on coal haulage from the Sidvokodvo siding to Maputo Port. This is an operation that resumed in December 2021 and in a period of a year, it has superseded logistical challenges to hit the big one. On the 16 th of February 2023, the ESR CEO Mr. Nixon Dlamini is seen receiving the symbolic 1 million
landmark award from Grinrod’s Logistics Africa Chief Executive Mr. Danie Parsons in Mbabane.

Background
A lot of coal is being transported by road haulers through the Eastern part of the Republic of South Africa along the N4 through the Lebombo boarder to the Maputo Port. This has resulted in serious congestion issues particularly at the boarder where trucks get stuck for more than 24 hours attempting to cross. This results in costly delays to deliver the product to the port so that
it reaches markets on time. Grinrod and ESR, explored a solution of transporting coal through Eswatini to the Maputo port. The solution explored manifested itself in the form of a working relationship with ESR where road haulers will fetch and deposit coal at the Sidvokodvo Train siding then consequently loaded onto trains and transported to the Maputo port. This solution
eliminates the boarder bottleneck that has frustrated many logistics operators like Grinrod through the Ressano Garcia route. This operation has added much needed tonnage to the ESR operation while also utilizing the previously underutilized Goba line that connects Eswatini railway network to Mozambique.

It is a collaborative effort of a lot of teams which has provided the opportunities to local road haulers that fetch the coal from RSA with their South African counterparts and deliver it at Sidvokodvo. There are currently more than 40% Emaswati road haulers servicing this business and ESR is congratulating them for their efforts. The local community has also benefited with the employment of eMaswati at the Sidvokodvo siding to do various jobs. Most of the truck operators prefer to fill up fuel in Eswatini since the cost is lower than in neighboring RSA. This project wouldn’t be complete without the collaborative efforts with the Mozambique Railway operator (CFM) who provide much needed locomotive and crew support to haul the cargo to
the port. The synergies exhibited by these have made it possible to pull off this project.

ESR would also like to congratulate its staff for their dedication in making this achievement possible. Only people can do work, machines do not exist without people and machines are operated by people. ESR would like to thank the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini and its agencies like the Eswatini Revenue Services and others for the support since the inception of the project to today. This huge logistical project would not have been possible without their critical support and guidance. Lastly, we would like to thank the people of Eswatini for their patience and understanding that despite challenges, work has to continue because business is what builds an economy and a vibrant economy is good for everyone.

The Eswatini Rail Link project team has spearheaded the project to reach significant milestones on its growth path. This is a joint effort between Transnet Freight Rail and Eswatini Railways. The project is currently at Project Affected People resettlement phase. Many resettlements alternative sites have been prepared for the construction phase which started in March 2023 in Eswatini.

This inter-railway initiative between Transnet Freight Rail (South Africa) and Eswatini Railways entails the construction of a 146 km new railway line/link from Lothair, South Africa to Sidvokodvo, Eswatini and the revamping of adjacent existing lines to align and provide support to the new link.

The project is intended to be a rail and road traffic congestion solution based on a realistic and achievable system capacity. The target is to accommodate trains of up to 26 tons/axle, 2.5km long/200 wagons trains and a capacity of 12 trains each way per day, in line with infrastructure interventions, thereby creating a dedicated General Freight Business Corridor for Transnet, while providing necessary additional capacity for Eswatini Railways. This growth in capacity adds to the current capacity of 12 trains of 81 wagons per day each way on the current ESR Komatipoort-Golela Line that will double the traffic volumes. Consequently, the Eswatini Rail Link project will enable added capacity on general freight business.

The Image below shows the Eswatini Railways System Map with added details of the new Eswatini Rail Link Project.

The Eswatini Railways System Map with added details of the new Eswatini Rail Link Project.

Recent developments in both the Kingdom of Eswatini and the Republic of South Africa include the following:

  • The signing of dossiers by project affected people.
  • Acquisition of land in South Africa and Eswatini is in progress.
  • In Eswatini, the clearing of land and construction of homesteads for the ongoing resettlements is underway.
  • Ongoing procurement process for building contractors.
  • A structure at grass roots level comprising of affected people is in place to address all resettlement issues. A participatory process to manage the relocation of homes is ongoing.
  • A robust consultative process with traditional authorities and other stakeholders is ongoing.
  • Complete adherence to regulatory and statutory requirements lies at the core of the entire project.
  • The Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini is in full support of the project as evidenced by the availing of resources for the relocation process.
  • In Eswatini, the resettlement of project affected people is underway. On the 13 th April the Honourable Minister of Public Works and Transport of the Kingdom of Eswatini toured household resettlement sites where construction has started. The photo below was taken during the tour.

On the 13 th April the Honourable Minister of Public Works and Transport of the Kingdom of Eswatini toured household resettlement sites where construction has started. This photo was taken during the tour.

Opportunities:
This project has already created opportunities on both sides of the boarder. Emaswati companies have participated at business level in undertaking some of the work and general Emaswati have benefitted in direct short-term employment.

  • Will create jobs in line with the stage of the project.
  • Will create business opportunities, facilitate skills transfer and training.
  • Will unlock mining opportunities.
  • Will give rise to Corporate Social Investment initiatives.
  • Boost both Eswatini and RSA economies.
  • Regional integration

Construction
Construction will start once the resettlement process is complete, the process to source a financier of the project is underway.

For more information contact:
Sandile Dlamini (Acting Project Director): +268 7802 2286
Senanile Mayabane (Project Manager): +268 76185359

an historic agreement to transport coal from Eswatini by rail to Moçambique and subsequently other commodities, was signed in Maputo by the two government railway parastatals on Friday 5th August 2022

On Thursday the 7th of April 2022, the honorable Minister of Public Works and Transport Chief Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe led a delegation of his ministerial team, members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee and the Director of Public Enterprise Unit (PEU) on a working tour of ESR Projects and operation. The team was hosted by the ESR Board of Directors led by the Chairman Mr. Alex Mngomezulu and the CEO. The objective was for the team to acquaint themselves with the operations of the parastatal and the new developments currently taking place in the state-owned entity. The MoPW&T is ESR’s parent ministry hence it is important for the collaborative visits to take place so that the teams can understand and witness the work being undertaken on the ground from time to time. ESR is grateful for the support that the Ministry, Portfolio Committee and PEU always extends to the organization from time to time to make it possible for the organization to undertake its business of being a viable operation that does not seek government financial subventions from time to time. This is possible only because the board, management and staff of the operation makes sure that the entity is run as a profitable enterprise that is competitive enough to meet customer needs and expectations.

Mpaka Inland Container Depot (ICD)
The visit kicked off at Mpaka where a site visit of the Mpaka Inland Container Depot or Dry Port is being constructed. This port will have the same operations as the Matsapha ICD where containerized cargo will be handled. The port is of strategic importance because ESR seeks to provide a service to businesses in the eastern part of the country who seek to move containers to either the ports of Maputo, Richards Bay, and Durban. This facility will cut the distance and cost those businesses incur when moving cargo from the East to the Matsapha Dry Port to be transported to overseas markets. Mpaka will be a hub for the Eastern operations and will be significant in that aspect. The project is currently at construction phase where the first phase will be completed at the end of April 2022 and operationalization of the facility will begin. The first phase will be able to handle about 7200 TEUs. There will be 2 more phases that will seek to expand the project to be able to have a bigger handling capacity. Those phases will be undertaken in the future. A good number of 56 community based eMaswati have been employed during the construction phase of this project. The local community was involved at the initial stage to avail labor to the contractor that is tasked with constructing the facility. There will be full time jobs that will be made available because of operational requirements of the facility in the future.

Sidvokodvo Coal Operation
A lot of coal is being transported by road haulers through the Eastern part of the Republic of South Africa along the N4 through the Lebombo border to the Maputo Port. This has resulted in serious logistical issues particularly at the border where trucks get stuck for more than 24 hours attempting to cross. This results in costly delays regarding delivery of the product to the port for loading and reaching markets on time. Grindrod, an operator in the coal, ferrochrome and other minerals space explored a solution of transporting coal through Eswatini to the Maputo port. The solution explored availed itself in the form of a working relationship with ESR where road haulers will deposit coal at the Sidvokodvo Train siding, and it will be loaded onto the train and be transported to the Maputo port. This solution eliminates the border bottleneck that has frustrated many logistics operators like Grindrod on the Ressano Garcia route. ESR through a logistics working relationship with Grindrod have developed this solution that has been in operation since December 2021. This operation will add much needed tonnage to the ESR operation and utilize the previously underutilized Goba line which connects Eswatini railways
network with that of our Mozambique counterparts. It is a collaborative effort of the two teams which has provided a lot of spin off opportunities to local road haulers to fetch the product from RSA together with their South African counterparts and deliver it at Sidvokodvo. There are currently 40% Swazi road haulers servicing this business. Local community has also benefited with the employment of eMaswati at the siding to do various jobs. Most of the truck operators prefer to fill up on fuel in Eswatini since the cost is lower than in the neighboring RSA. Currently ESR has a 3-year renewable contract with the Grindrod who is ESRs customer. This project wouldn’t be complete without the collaborative efforts with the Mozambique Railway operator (CFM) who provide much needed locomotive and crew support to haul the cargo to the port. The synergies exhibited by these have made it possible to pull off the project.

 

Matsapha Station
The visit concluded at Matsapha where the team saw the operation of the Matsapha station and the new timber project. ESR has moved a lot of timber which has been on the road from Bhunya to Richards Bay back onto rail. This is significant and beneficial to both road and rail as road haulers now move shorter profitable distances within Eswatini while leaving the longer haul to rail. The road will also get a breather because more heavy haulage means more stress for our roads. The Minister indicated happiness at the way the tour unfolded and emphasized the government’s commitment to making sure that rail continues to thrive. He stated that rail projects are essential part of the economy and the projects shown to the team are paramount in stimulating economic activities across various sectors of Eswatini’s economy.

As part of ESRs Corporate Social Investment (CSI), the organization funded “Increasing safe water using Inclusive Hand-Pumps at Madvuma and Emvabuhlungu Communities”.

Eswatini Railways continues to play a leading role in implementing Quality Management Systems that aims at enhancing the value add on our customer services

Eswatini Railways Constructs and Donates Queuing Benches to the Government of The Kingdom of
Eswatini at the Manzini Government Offices for use by Emaswati

Eswatini Railways CEO’s Remarks 2021
,

Greetings to you all readers. It is my first time on this platform and I am looking forward to many more interactions. I arrived at ESR in March 2020 during the height of the first lockdown, the time of the COVID-19 Pandemic when the whole world was going through a rough period of an unprecedented global health crisis. When I arrived, I could not imagine that the railways would be resilient through this over a year health disaster. Through dedication of our staff, support from customers and partner organizations we are still on our two feet, we did not layoff or reduce salaries of any staff members. The parastatal has shown that it has a future, and that future is bright.

The railways sadly suffered two casualties as a result of the pandemic so far, the country has lost hundreds, may their souls rest in peace. We are hopeful that as we continue undertaking all preventative precautions to avoid the spread of the virus, its effects will be reduced.

The 2020/2021 financial year that just ended in April 2021 shows that the organization performed 85% towards budgeted volumes. We are encouraged that despite all the catastrophic economic environment of the 2020/21 financial year, ESR was just only 15% short towards meeting budget. We are however cautious since the health problems are still in our midst, we are not out of the woods yet and we need to continue working hard and smart.

Our Strategic Plan has three pillars, Diversification, Systems Integration and Stakeholder Management. We are currently in the middle of implementation of this plan. All three key components are ongoing, and I want to single out projects under diversification that are already underway.

    1. We are in the process of developing our warehousing
      portfolio and our warehouse in Matsapha has already been
      renovated and will be leased out; with more on the pipeline in
      this area.
    2. The expansion of the Matsapha Inland Clearance Depot (ICD) is ongoing though volumes of containerized cargo have been greatly affected with the changes in the secondhand cars’ imports.
    3. The development of the Mpaka ICD is underway and should be finished by the end of 2021. This will act as a strategic depot for all rail friendly cargo originating from the East of Eswatini. It will assist in cutting down of distance for cargo to be ferried by road to the Matsapha facility before being loaded on the train.

The ESRL Project is entering the resettlement phase and we are thankful to the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini for making funds available for this process to start. We have consulted with Traditional Leaders of the affected communities and Resettlement Task Teams to inform them of the latest developments and our plans. The wheel is turning, and we will see real movement this winter.

I thank you for taking your time to read my brief remarks, I am confident that we will be conversing again soon in the next edition and all of us will be safe and well. Regards