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.
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
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- We are in the process of developing our warehousing
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
The Eswatini Rail Link Project is a Strategic Joint Inter-Railway Initiative between the two State Owned railway entities of Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of Eswatini that will provide a strategic rail link for both countries with the two major East Coast ports of Richards Bay and Maputo.
The project will promote intra African trade and the integration of the Region’s freight logistics, stimulate and be a catalyst for economic development and job creation as well as contribute to a modal shift from road to Rail.
Eswatini Railways (ESR) has received adequate financing towards the implementation of the first phase of the Resettlement of Project Affected Households, fields and forests, affected by the Eswatini Rail Link Project in the following Chiefdoms.
Mabhukwini, Kuthuleni, Zenukeni, Zondwako, Mlindazwe, Mbangave, Mhlangeni, Nhlulweni, Ncabaneni, Luyengo/Khalangilile, Ntondozi, Ndinda, Mphini and Ndlinilembi.
Eswatini Railways is continuing with stakeholder engagement initiatives of all the important various stakeholders and Project Affected People (PAPs). Land acquisition for resettlement purposes is also being undertaken. Physical resettlement will begin this financial year 2021/22 Eswatini Railways wishes to take this opportunity to thank Chiefs (boBabe Tikhulu) neBantfwabenkosi, of the project affected areas for identifying and allocating alternative land for the resettlement of the affected persons.
Eswatini Railways also wishes to thank all Project Stakeholders for their anticipated cooperation as it undertakes this Strategic National and Regional Project Eswatini Railways looks forward to the successful implementation of this Strategic National and Regional Project.
Railways Safety Begins with Me. Eswatini Railways is today launching the railway safety week at Mpaka. As an organisation ESR values the life and safety of our staff, customers and communities that we interact with. In the time of COVID – 19 ESR says be safe.
ESR CEO, Mr Nixon Dlamini paying a courtesy visit to the Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority offices where he was welcomed by the EIPA CEO, Mr Sibane Mngomezulu. EIPA is crucial in the investment drive and ESR provides infrastructure to support the initiatives.
A Joint meeting of ESR & SAs TFR CEOs to discuss progress on the Eswatini Rail Link Project at the Royal Villas was honoured by the presence of the Honourable MoPW&T, ESR Board Chair & the Media. The Minister came to show government’s commitment to the project.
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