Western Link rail project will boost SME fortunes

30 November 2012

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30 November 2012 | Adam Leach

Small, medium and micro enterprises (SMEs) from Swaziland and South Africa are set to benefit from contracting opportunities provided by the construction of a rail link between the two countries.

The Western Link project will construct a 147km line that runs between Sidvokodvo in Swaziland and Lothair in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. The construction phase of the project will see the state-owned operators of the two countries, Transnet Freight Rail and Swaziland Railway, work closely together and ensure contract opportunities are used to boost economic growth, particularly with regard to SMEs from both countries.

Speaking at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two companies, Siyabonga Gama, chief executive of Transnet Freight Rail, said: “[Western Link] promises exciting times within our countries, organisations and our people as it will bring about economic growth, employment and business opportunities.”

When completed, the line will link up with other intra-continental routes, strengthening transport routes between countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia. In his address, Gama explained that the link would enable more goods to be delivered by rail instead of road, which in turn would reduce commodity transportation costs.

He said: “Rail capacity will be created for commodities to and from our eastern ports, supporting cost-effective increased export and import for the hinterland.”

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