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

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