Media Release

14 July 2017


The Swaziland 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 Swaziland Railway. The project has successfully completed the FEL3, which was the feasibility phase. Early works are currently underway, and this involves graves relocation, acquisition of servitudes and the resettlement planning. The feasibility study report received a green light to proceed to the next phase.

The project is now at the stage of exploring and evaluating the various funding options at the same time looking for customers and potential customers to ensure the viability of the project.

This Inter-Railway initiative between Transnet Freight Rail (Republic of South Africa) and Swaziland Railway entails the construction of a 150km long line from Lothair to Sidvokodvo, with 50km in South Africa and 100km in Swaziland. The project also includes the revamping of adjacent existing lines to align and provide support to the new link.

The project’s primary objective is to design a rail connection between Lothair and the Komatipoort –Richards Bay railway route and to provide a viable General Freight diversionary route to remove traffic from the Coal line freeing up 200 wagon Coal line slots for Export Coal. The target is to accommodate up to 26 tons/axle, 2.5km long/200 wagons trains and provide capacity for 12 trains each way per day, in line with infrastructure interventions. This will result in a dedicated General Freight Business Corridor for Transnet, while providing necessary additional capacity for Swaziland Railway. In addition the new link will enable road to rail migration.

This growth adds to the current capacity of 12 trains of 81 wagons per day each way on the current Swaziland Railway Komatipoort-Golela Line, thereby doubling the traffic volumes. Consequently, the Swaziland Rail Link project will aid added capacity on general freight business, decongesting the Coal line and unlocking capacity on the eastern mainline and the North South Corridor.

The line has been designed to carry a maximum of 200 General Freight wagons and will be operated as a seamless service without stopping at the border.

This project has already created opportunities on both sides of the border. Approximately 3,000 and 6,500 jobs are projected in South Africa and Swaziland respectively during construction of the SRL railway line. Business opportunities to the value of R0.894 billion in South Africa and R1.7 billion in Swaziland, are anticipated. Many more indirect job opportunities will be formed by the project.

The detailed planning phase is underway and comprises of; land acquisition, graves relocation, resettlement planning activities and completion of the engineering designs.

Recent developments include the following on the Swaziland side:

  • The highlights of the feasibility report (FEL3) show that 500 graves will be relocated and 235 households will be resettled in Swaziland. To date all 500 graves have been relocated.
  • Negotiations for acquisition of 122 hectares out of the 712 hectares of land required are at an advanced stage.
  • A structure at grass roots level comprising of Project Affected People (PAPs) is in place to address all resettlement issues. A participatory process in the grave relocation was applied in line with relevant guidelines.
  • A robust consultative process with traditional authorities and other stakeholders like the Regional Administrator, Chiefs and Government ministries is ongoing.
  • Studies of upgrades are in progress for Sidvokodvo – Phuzumoya – Golela.
  • The Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland has demonstrated its commitment bythe funding of the early works.

Compliance with regulatory and statutory requirements lies at the core of the entire project.

Progress on the South African side:

  • The Socio Economic Assessment in the Mpumalanga area to determine the level of skills available, types of small businesses available to boost local employment and business opportunities.
  • The purchasing of 506 hectares of land has been approved and negotiations with the land owners are being finalised in order to purchase the impacted land.
  • Furthermore, approval for exhumation and relocation of over 120 affected graves has also been obtained. The affected families have been identified and engaged in this process.
  • The plans to resettle the affected households are also in progress.
  • The feasibility studies of the Greenfields are complete and the authorities in South Africa and Swaziland have granted both teams the necessary environmental permits.
  • Feasibility studies of the existing lines that need to be upgraded, that is, Ermelo to Lothair as well as Golela to Nsese are also in progress.
  • Engagements are being conducted on a continuous basis with the existing customers and potential customers to ensure maximum viability and sustainability.


Special gratitude is extended to His Majesty’s Government and the Government of South Africa for their continued support, the Manzini Regional Administrator for always creating time for the project, Traditional Leaders, affected Communities for their unwavering support. Last but not least the zealous and positive role that the media has played thus far in promoting the project, has not gone unnoticed.

Editor’s Notes:

  • The Swaziland Rail Link project (SRL) is a seamless project running across two countries, South Africa and Swaziland. The project is collaboration between two companies, namely, Swaziland Railways (from Swaziland) and Transnet Freight Rail (from South Africa). The project entails the construction of a 150 kilometre new railway line from Lothair in South Africa to Sidvokodvo in Swaziland and revamping two existing lines, the first from Ermelo to Lothair in South Africa and the other one from Sidvokodvo in Swaziland to Richards Bay in South Africa.
  • The SRL will also ensure business continuity in cases of shutdowns and line closure.
  • The Swaziland Rail Link will enhance the capacity of the eastern seaboard GFB system
  • The line has been designed to carry a maximum of 200 General Freight wagons and will be operated as a seamless service.


For further information contact:

Mike Asefovitz
Transnet Freight Rail
Tel. 011 544 9585
Cell. 083-286-2078

Swaziland spokesperson
Mr. Sive Manana
Tel. 2404 2486
Cell: 78022238

                                                       Swaziland Railway

                  CEO’s Article for Loliwe Magazine – 4th Quarter and Year End

Swaziland Railway continued to operate in a difficult trading environment, an environment of low economic activity in the country and the region, in particular the South African economy which is declining. Recently the South African economy has been declare in recession after a consecutive negative growth for two quarters. SR largely depends on transit traffic originating from South Africa hauled through Swaziland to South African Ports, most of the transit cargoes are minerals for export and local use in the manufacturing of fertilizer in Richards Bay (rock phosphate).

Traffic Volumes and Revenue

Tonnage recorded in the 4th quarter was above budget by 20% and revenue above budget by 18%. This was a very good performance despite the harsh trading conditions that showed in the recession of the South African economy. The demand for rock phosphate and magnetite remained very strong. The train operations through Swaziland was excellent, thanks to the Operating Section which is the cutting edge in service delivery. We appreciate the support from all departments which ensured that infrastructure and our communication systems were tip-top. Our survival in this harsh trading environment will largely depend on improving the quality of service. We have to operate safely and ensure that our trains run on time. Our Employees have to be fit for duty at all times and maintain high level of competence.

Annual Tonnage and Revenue Figures

Having completed our financial year which ended 31st March, 2017, tonnage hauled amounted to 8.12 Million, above budget by 21% and the corresponding revenue topped E 302.5 Million, above budget by 20%. Achievement of this level of performance is attributed to high focus on the business by all the players in the organization.

It is important to remain focused and knowing that an organization only exists because it has something to offer, and what it offered is in demand by the customers, on top of that the service provider knows the requirements of the customers. The Marketing Section is key in obtaining feedback on how SR fairs in providing the required services.

Risk Management

The operations of SR are by nature hazardous, we deal with moving objectives and there is always the likelihood of something going wrong as the location of our equipment changes. Given the different scenarios, we have to proactively identify potential risks at the planning stage. This applies to all our activities where we have to assess what is likely to go wrong, once the assessment is done we put in place mitigation plans to reduce or eliminate the risks that would cause failure of the project or activity. The Risk Management Unit under Internal Audit has made tremendous strides in building the capacity and inculcating the new approach to project planning to all our Managers.

Strategic Plan Implementation

SR activities continued to be guided by the Strategic Plan running from 2014 to 2019. The implementation of the Strategic Objectives is priority, the snag is the limited financial resources and to some extent limited internal capacity, however, the prioritization helps deal with the high impact activities/projects. One area that has improved significantly is the provision of rolling stock to convey fuel and containers.

Safety, Health, Environment and Quality

SHEQ programs will ever remain top priority because as they are successfully implemented, the organization prevents losses in human capital and equipment, a safe environment is conducive to achieving high productivity. Quality systems prevent wastage of resources and ensure the right service is provided at the right time and place, and at the right price. The culture of safety is sinking in very well with all employees.

Article by: S.Z, Ngubane- CEO                                                          16 June, 2017

Swaziland Railway successfully transitions from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015

In March 2012 after a strategic decision to obtain ISO 9001 certification as a means of demonstrating her commitment to fulfilling the organisation’s promises to its customers, Swaziland Railway was successful in gaining her certification by TUV Rheinland to this international standard following a three(3) year journey which commenced in 2009. Since gaining her certification, Swaziland Railway has maintained her commitment to customer satisfaction through the continual improvement of her business operating system to meet the ever changing customer needs in a dynamic business environment.

ISO 9001 is the world’s most popular quality management standard which has recently been updated in 2015 to make sure it reflects the needs of modern-day business. ISO 9001 is an excellent framework to help manage our business effectively so that we can be operationally resilient, build long-term success, and ensure customer satisfaction.

Following the release in September 2015 of the latest version of the standard, our Certification Body(TUV Rheinland) gave the organisation up to March 2018 to transition from the 2008 version or else Swaziland Railway was to lose her certification. As an organisation, we couldn’t wait that long to make that transition and that is why in a Management Review meeting held in October 2016, a decision was taken to act fast and identify the gaps that needed closing to ensure we gain certification to the latest revision of the standard ahead of our competitors. It is pleasing to announce that in February 2017 a TUV Rheinland Team of Auditors visited Swaziland Railway following our request to be audited against the new version and to no surprise recommended to the Certification Body that we been issued certification to the latest (2015) version of ISO 9001.

ISO 9001:2015 is the new business improvement tool that has helped in driving continual improvement and deliver results in our organization. It has helped Swaziland railway to stand out, gain a competitive edge, and grow. To us, ISO 9001:2015 is more than a quality management system, it’s a complete business operational tool designed to improve performance. The standard uses a process approach to ensure customer satisfaction and places quality right at the heart of our organization, complementing business strategy and helping enhance performance over time. It has provided us with a framework which has helped us to focus on ensuring we anticipate our business environment and customer needs and its flexibility and agility has really added value to us as an organisation.

Our SHEQ Manager Mr Mavela Wilson Vilane shares some views on how we have succeeded in this journey to being a world class organisation.

Top management commitment is key to making this a success:

  • Always keep staff informed of what’s going on, create a team and assign a champion in all departments, as this increases motivation.
  • Develop and communicate a well communicated plan of activities and timescales. Think about how different departments work together to avoid silos.
  • Make sure the organization works as a team for the benefit of customers and the organization.
  • Review systems, policies, procedures and processes you have in place, you may already do much of what’s in the standard, and make it work for your business.
  • Speak to your customers and suppliers. They may be able to suggest improvements and give feedback on your service.
  • Think about how you do things and how that standard reflects on how you do it, rather than the other way around.
  • Finally, when you gain certification celebrate your achievement and use your Certification Body’s assurance mark on your documentation, website and promotional material.

As a follow-up, Swaziland Railway will implement all improvement opportunities through conducting internal audits while continuously creating awareness to our employees on the importance of meeting customer requirements in line with our quality policy and objectives.

Special thanks goes to Swaziland Railway Management, TUV, Team SHEQ and the entire organisation for living up to the standard.

Swaziland Railway

Loliwe Magazine Article: – S.Z. Ngubane, Chief Executive Officer

When the 2016/17 Financial Year started we had revenue and tonnage figures at the same level as the previous year. The global low demand for commodities especially minerals coupled with prices that had dropped by 65% a year ago, made one predict tough times ahead. As a transporter or carrier we depend on what is produced locally for exports, from neighboring countries and the SADC region passing through Swaziland, we equally depend on what is consumed locally in the form of imports such as fuel and other finished goods. The severe drought, never experienced in decades, sealed the gloomy picture and indeed Swaziland Railway was affected when informed by the Swaziland Sugar Association (SSA) about a reduction in export volumes by 50%.

The performance of the 1st quarter (April to June) turned out completely different from the budget estimates. The quarterly budget in terms of profit was estimated to be a loss but luckily we made profit. Imports were very strong and exceeded budget so was transit traffic. Transit traffic was 36% above budget, imports 8% but unfortunately exports, dominated by sugar, were below budget by 22%. This level of performance has given hope that the year will be better than originally anticipated. We have also got to know that the demand for commodities is improving and have seen this through the rise in the export of coal through Maputo which had stopped in the past two years. The commodity prices have also increased from as low as US $ 50 to US $ 70, which is a big relief. The bulk commodities such as minerals are the ideal traffic for rail because rail strives on volumes and the available capacity is hungry for large quantities of cargo.

Safety of operations

During the quarter there were no major accidents that would have resulted in line closures. We are always concerned about accidents because they rob us capacity and are a financial drain. The effort of the SHEQ Section working with all departments is commendable, we have seen the weekly safety tips dissemination and I believe it is effective in raising awareness to each and every employee.

Safety is a state of mind, when you think safety in all activities you are very likely to complete whatever process without an incident. Accidents hit you unaware but if you are alert they shy away, if you drive a car try to think about arriving safely at your destination by driving in full alert and you will arrived safely but if your attention is divided by chatting with passengers, using the phone or being distracted by side attraction including lady human being the probability of an accident is very high. The other aspect in operating trains safely is preparedness for your trip or shift, you must be well rested and have peace at home. We appeal to family members to support Train Personnel by keeping down noise level of any kind in the home, be it music or the human loud speaker. We particularly encourage spouses or partners to be considerate and caring, know the right time to report incidents, for example, allow the shift worker to relax first, refresh and rest before bombarding him/her with depressing reports. When a shift worker is resting/sleeping you do not wake him/her up when Malume has come or Babe loMKHULU, just let those relatives wait until he wakes up at the end of his /her sleep/rest. Even the Mother-in-Law has no right to wake up Mkhwenyana whatever the issue (including lobola debt).

Competitive Advantage

With the 1st Quarter excellent performance from a projected loss to a surplus, we are fired to maintain this level of performance but it depends on you and me. Every employee must come prepared to give his/her best, be in good health physically and mentally. Maputo Harbour is always ready to slash off the business through Swaziland and if we relax they will topple us anytime. We must prevent train delays by reporting for duty on time and making sure trains do not lose time along the way. We must work safely at all times, think about safety and be safe.


1.0 Background

In recent years Maputo Port and Matola Terminal have become heavily utilized by Mozambican exporters and importers as well as traders from South Africa and Swaziland. The high utilization necessitated better coordination of the flow of traffic into Maputo Port and Matola Terminal. It was observed that as the traffic grew in volume there were delays in the port caused by congestion of railway lines.

Swaziland was represented by the Honourable (Minister of Natural Resources and Energy) Jabulile Mashwama standing in for the held up Minister of Public Works and Transport, Pastor Lindiwe Dlamini. The CEO Mr Stephenson Ngubane, Assistant Director Operations Mr Vincent Mamba, Assistant Director Commercial and Marketing Mr Sandla Msibi and Corporate Communications Specialist Mr Sive Manana.

2.0 Objective of Setting up the Joint Operations Center

The objective was to bring all the role players to work on the same platform (desk) for better coordination of traffic flows thus reducing delays and avoiding congestion of the ports. All the traffic flows from local Mozambican international cargo, from Swaziland and South Africa need space, if there is no coordination, it was observed that everyone was negatively affected.

3.0 The Key Players

The key players are; Swaziland Railway (SR), Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), Mozambique Railways & Ports (CFM) and Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC).

The 4 organizations entered into an operational agreement to establish the Joint Operation Center, for better management of the train movements to the various port terminals. Each member (key player) will have staff working 24 hrs at this center, monitoring train movements and sharing information instantly because they are working from the same desk. The center is equipped with computer systems to aid the staff in monitoring traffic movement.

4.0 The Benefits

  • All the players will benefit by having the assurance that their traffic/cargo will be accommodated and will run on schedule.
  • Congestion of the port will be avoided through planned execution and coordination of the trains
  • Congestion of the railway yards will be avoided
  • Waiting time of trains will be reduced
  • Turnaround time of wagons and locomotives will be reduced
  • There will better management of incidents because all the players will share information instantly and discuss how to deal with those incidents that would cause delays
  • More traffic will be handled by the Maputo Port and Matola Terminal from the current 12 million to as high as 32 million in future years
  • If Maputo is well coordinated and receives high volumes of traffic, TRADERS from all three countries will be competitive with their products in the international market due to reduced transport and logistics costs.

Swaziland Case

Swaziland exports about 1.2 million tonnes of iron –ore per year through Maputo Port and 275,000 tonnes of sugar per year through the same port. These commodities are transported by rail. Swaziland Railway and the Swaziland exporters have a vested interest in the operations of Maputo Port and Matola Terminal. We would like to see our exports handled efficiently and without hindrance hence the involvement of SR in this cooperation agreement. We must protect our exporters to avoid being marginalized, if we were not participating certain decisions would be taken detrimental to us.

5.0 The Launch of the JOC in September 2014

The Swaziland Government Was invited to witness this concept because it came by in alignment with the provisions of the Transport Protocol which states that SADC Governments want to see the provision of seamless service, coordinated and integrated operations. The JOC is the perfect model in that it’s a center where everybody is, it is real and not by remote control or virtual. There is no communication gap between all the players who are to ensure smooth movement of goods in support of the 3 countries.

Since Railways are Government Agents in extending services to the economy it is fitting and appropriate that Representatives of Government witness this occasion.

By: S.Z. Ngubane
     Chief Executive Officer
     Swaziland Railway