Coming – Trans Kalahari Express

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK In an effort to improve the efficiency of the Trans Kalahari Corridor, the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) has appointed a logistics company, which will establish and operate the Trans Kalahari Express (TKE). The express, a multi-modal transport system, will now offer importers and exporters of goods in Gauteng, South Africa and Gaborone, Botswana, an alternative port to that of Durban in South Africa, by reducing transit times by more than four days. The corridor group and transport providers have been cooperating and have now committed themselves to develop a coordinated system, which will provide the speed and reliability required by the shippers to the European as well as North and South American markets. The ultimate goal is to capitalise on the location of the WBCG to build state-of-the-art transport and a logistics system capable of a two-day premium service to and from Gauteng and Gaborone and a three to four-day standard service from ship’s call. Last week, the WBCG and its logistics partners Grindrod signed a memorandum of understanding, which will see the logistics company develop the corridor, a freight route between Walvis Bay, Botswana and South Africa. “Importers and exporters in Gauteng and Botswana can anticipate reduced transit times at competitive costs for cargo moving from or to Europe and the Americas,” said the chairman of WBCG, Sebby Kankondi and executive director of Grindrod, John Jones, last week in a statement. The memorandum of understanding was signed in Johan-nesburg, South Africa, last week. They said the agreement would benefit both parties in that Gridrod would bring increased volumes of traffic to the corridor and in turn benefit from gaining exposure to a new market. With the TKE, the corridor group intends to develop the Trans Kalahari Corridor as the first state-of-the-art intermodal transport and logistics system to respond to demands of global enterprises. In its newsletter of January 2005, the WBCG said it would provide a competitive edge for its users by offering a faster, effective land bridge services across South Africa to and from Trans Atlantic markets via the port of Walvis Bay. According to the newsletter, the role of the partner in the establishment of the TKE would be the development of customised transport logistic service packages for new customers, utilising block trains and fast track shuttle services capable of maximum truck utilisation and bringing in specific anchor customs to the route and to ensure the effective operations of services. The WBCG is a private-public partnership of transport operators, logistics providers and government agencies concerned with trade and transport. Its aim is to promote the use of the Trans Kalahari Corridor and the Trans Caprivi Corridor to serve the port of Walvis Bay and to provide a forum, to address the issues that hinder transport and transit along these corridors. The establishment of the TKE is scheduled for this year. So is the opening of a new WBCG office in Gaborone, Botswana. Over the years, some improvements have been made to the corridor, which include new handling equipment and automation at the port, construction of a new railway inland container depot in Windhoek, and upgrading of the Trans Kalahari Highway in Botswana and South Africa. In this respect, border times have also been extended, documentation has been simplified and harmonised, while pro-clearing of cargo at the ports has been increased.