Plans for the implementation of the Eswatini Rail Link (ESRL) project, which is a joint inter-railway strategic initiative between Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), the South African rail manager, and Eswatini Railways (ESR), are in good progress, reportedly in the fund acquisition stage which when successful will be followed by the construction phase.
The project is aimed at creating a dedicated General Freight Business (GFB) corridor for Transnet whilst providing the much needed additional capacity for Eswatini Railways. It entails the construction of a 150-kilometer long new railway link between Lothair in South Africa and Sidvokodvo in Eswatini, formerly known in English as Swaziland.
The project also includes the upgrading of existing lines, one being the line from Ermelo to Lothair and the other being the line from Sidvokodvo in Eswatini to the logistics hub of Richards Bay, in South Africa.
Benefits of the Eswatini Rail Link (ESRL) project
The Eswatini Rail Link project is expected to create job and business opportunities. It is anticipated that approximately 3,400 construction-related jobs will be created in South Africa and 2,700 in Eswatini during the project’s construction phase. Long-term employment opportunities extend to an estimated 500 jobs in South Africa and 300 in Eswatini. This will arise from train operations and maintenance.
The project will also help develop the skills of the people in the project and surrounding areas and It will be a catalyst for economic development, improvement of regional integration, and promotion of intra-African trade.
Particularly ESRL is a great project for Eswatini’s economy as it will promote cash inflows during the construction phase. Many products and services required for the implementation of the project and this will develop many aspects of the economy. Also, during the operation of the line, Eswatini Railways is expecting increased traffic and volumes, which will result in increased revenue.