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NCABANENI – About 6 000 emaSwati are set to benefit from 7 600 job opportunities to be created by Eswatini Rail Link (ESRL) project in the country and in South Africa (SA).

This was revealed by Transnet Freight Rail Chief Commercial Officer Bonginkosi Mabaso at Ncabaneni, under Ntondozi Constituency yesterday, when the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Chief Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe, launched the ESRL Resettlement Project. This ESRL project is a multibillion development that was launched over a decade ago by the governments of South Africa and Eswatini, through its railway companies; Transnet Freight Rail and Eswatini Railways, respectively.

The project, which was estimated to cost E29 billion in 2016, will include the construction of greenfield and brownfield railway lines. The greenfield railway line will start from Lothair in South Africa to Sidvokodvo in Eswatini, while the brownfield railway lines will be the upgrading of the existing ones between Davel and Ermelo to Lothair (South Africa), then Sidvokodvo to Lavumisa via Phuzumoya and Golela to Nsese (Richards Bay).
It will pass through 14 chiefdoms, which are under four constituencies in the Manzini Region. The communities to be affected are Mangcongco, Mhlambanyatsi, LaMgabhi and Ntondozi.

The Transnet executive said they were excited to be part of the journey that would see regional integration becoming a reality. He said with this project, they were now actively moving towards achieving regional integration, which would enable countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to trade among themselves. He said, by so doing, they would be competitive globally and develop their economies.
Mabaso said in 2011, when this project was started, their predecessors announced their willingness to partner with Eswatini in building this monumental infrastructure project. “We (Transnet Freight Rail) are here today (yesterday) to reaffirm our commitment to partnering with the emaSwati in making this project a reality,” Mabaso said.

He said they had analysed the impact of the project, not only in Eswatini and South Africa, but in the SADC Region, at large. He said their analysis revealed that in terms of creation of employment opportunities, it would create at least 7 600 guaranteed jobs in Eswatini and SA. He said in Eswatini, the project would create at least 6 000 employment opportunities, while in SA, about 1 600 jobs would accrue.


Again, he said others looked at the impact in terms of volumes, instead of zooming into an individual. For example, he said when he was growing up in his village in SA, the SA government came up with a project to construct the N2 Public Road and to many, the development did not make sense.
“However, today I am standing here as a proud product of resource, which my family got from that project and today, the N2 Public Road is bringing so much to the South African economy. Likewise, in this very same community (Ncabaneni) there is a young boy, who, in the not so distance future, will proudly announce the success of his life, through this project,” Mabaso said.

On the same note, ESRL Project Director Sandile ‘SK’ Dlamini said the development would also create permanent jobs. He added that so far, at least 12 local contractors from three different categories (B1, B2 and B3) had been engaged and the people of the affected communities were given first preference when employment opportunities were availed. Also, Ncabaneni Indvuna Matikweni Nkambule said one of the contractors who won a tender in the ongoing works of the project, was from the community.

Thereafter, the project director emphasised that this project would aim at having spin-offs that would change the peoples’ lives for the better, including those who would be affected by the development. Once more, the minister said as local contractors and people from the communities had been engaged and employed in the project, they would be paid and, in turn, they would have income to better their lives and also pay tax, which meant that the country’s economy would develop as the money would circulate locally.