- Less than one third of Angola's old and extensive railroad network has survived the decades of civil war. The government now has announced plans to invest US$ 4 billion over the next years to reconstruct this network and even extend it.
Angolan Transportation Minister André Luis Brandão revealed this at a recent meeting of the African Railways Union (UAC) in Luanda. The railway network of Angola, before the destructions of war, was of importance to the regional network, providing an outlet to the coast from Lusaka (Zambia) via Lubumbashi in southern Congo.
Angola has about 2,700 kilometres of railways, but only about 850 kilometres - or one third - of the existing network is now operational. Many parts were destroyed during the civil war, other parts were filled with mines. Several railways also crossed the frontline between government-controlled areas and strongholds of the UNITA rebels. No trains have crossed here since the late 1970s.
According to Transport Minister Brandão, the Luanda government has set aside US$ 4 billion over the next 11 years to build out and reconstruct the major railways in the country. Reconstruction is going to be relatively slow and concentrate on the trans-border railway networks.
The national "Angoferro" railway project is set to link Angola to its eastern neighbours; Congo Kinshasa (DRC) and Zambia. From Zambia, further existing railroads connect to most countries of Southern Africa. The major commercial drive behind this line is to re-establish the Angolan coast as the port outlet for the mineral rich Katanga province of Congo Kinshasa.
Railroad segments in Angola's southern provinces Benguela and Namibe are currently being repaired under the same programme, according to the government's Agência Nacional para o Investimento Privado (ANIP).
The railway in the Namibe province is currently not connected to other parts of the national or regional network. Starting in the interior city of Menongue, it ends up in the port city of Namibe. There however exists an agreement with the government of Namibia to connect this railroad to the Namibian network.
In related news, Angola's National De-Mining Institute recently announced that it had completed de-mining operations along the Huambo-Cuito route of the Benguela railroad. A total of 337 landmines and other explosive devices were removed from the 202-kilometer stretch linking the capitals of Huambo and Bie provinces.
Benguela Railway officials hope that trains will be able to travel from the port city of Lobito on the Atlantic coast to Bie's capital of Cuito by the end of 2006, according to reports from ANIP.
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