MAJOR achievements have been realized in this sector as evidenced
by the rapid expansion of the road network currently connecting
all towns and most major villages as well as upgrading of the
civil aviation infrastructure such as Maun airport.
Bus on the road to Kanye.
The Roads Department of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications is responsible for the maintenance of the national road networks. At the end of 1993 Botswana had over 18000 kilometers of roads and tracks. National roads covered by 8700 kilometres, 3970 kilometers of which are bitumenised. District roads are the responsibility of the respective town and district councils.
The Trans-Kalahari road, at a total estimated cost of P250 million
at 1993 prices, is one of the largest road projects ever to be
undertaken in southern Africa. Further improving Botswana's position
in the world economy, completion of the 595-kilometer road, largely
donor-funded, will shorten traveling times and link Botswana's
remote western districts (and the livestock-rearing district capital
of Ghansi) with the nore populated eastern parts (and the country's
capital, Gaborone), thereby allowing the country to become more
closely integrated. Those living in the Ghansi and Kgalagadi
districts will benefit in a variety of ways, as transport costs
fall and new opportunities for employment develop. Tourism to
the Gemsbok National Park and the Mabuasehube and central Kgalagadi
game reserves is expected to increase, with the new, all-weather
road in addition providing an alternative access to the sea for
Botswana and other countries in the SADC region.
Grader working on the Sherwood Paars Halt Road. ->
Construction of the road has been split into three separate projects: Sekoma - Kang, Kang - Ghansi Junction and Mamuno - Ghansi, with the first section already under construction and full completion of the road expected by the last quarter of 1996.
By cutting out up to 400 kilometers on the existing route between the PWV area Windhoek, the road will provide an important major transit route for traffic between South Africa and Namibia, linking the latter to its SADC neighbors and creating an additional corridor tot he sea at Walvis Bay. In order to recover the costs of road usage by transit vehicles, with an additional 150 per day expected to use the route, the government is investigating, ina regional context, the appropriate road user charge to be levied on these vehicles.
A scarcity of conventional road building materials, near absence of construction water, and climatic extreme combine to pose a formidable engineering challenge for construction of the road. Extensive experimental work has been carried out to evaluate the suitability of existing materials for producing the required standard of road which has to cater for a high proportion of heavy commercial vehicles. A water investigation and drilling program costing more than P4 million has been carried out on sections between Sekoma and Ghansi; more than 50 boreholes have been drilled and, although there are serious problems of salinity in some areas, sufficient information has been assembled for contractors to adequately plan for construction water.
In recognition of the importance of conserving the environment in the fragile Kalahari Desert the government, with the active support of donor agencies associated with the project, has conducted comprehensive environmental impact studies to investigate the effects of the road construction on the physical environment, the people and the wildlife within the catchment area.
These studies were carried out in line with the government's natural resources conservation strategy, in order to ensure that any adverse impacts on the environment would be minimized by adoption of appropriate ameliorative measures.
Road projects in Botswana reflect the government's goal of establishing a bitumen road network spanning the entire country and linking all district centers. Traveling by road to the Okavango is now also a feasible option, as the Nata-to-Maun road a paved road will soon be completed up to the Caprivi Strip.
As part of the enabling environment needed to stimulate private sector development, air transport has a vital role to play in Botswana's development. The provision of safe, reliable and frequent air services between the main centers of population and neighboring countries is important for encoring foreign private investment in key sectors of the economy, such as construction, manufacturing and tourism. Botswana's area and scattered settlements, its distance from most of the world's centers of industry and the remoteness of most of its tourist attractions make air transport indispensable.
Through rationalization of its route network Air Botswana ( a parastatal under the supervision of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications) has had to curtail operational costs, due to under-utilization of its expensive assets and the global recession affecting the air industry.
The Department of Civil Aviation is responsible for implementing
national aviation policies, providing infrastructure at airports
and regulating air routes in the country while maintaining high
levels of efficiency and safety. Sir Seretse Khama International
Airport, located 15 kilometers from the center of Gaborone, is
capable development at Maun Airport is at an advanced stage.
Passengers boarding a train in the early morning at Gaborone station.
Botswana's railway system, located in the east of the country, is one of the newest and one of the relatively few in the world whose entire coaching fleet is fully air-conditioned. Botswana Railways administers all the functions for running the railway including operations, commercial work, finance, maintenance, training and development. The superb Blue Trains offer two standards of seating accommodation, with the overnight trains consisting of sleeping coaches with shower compartments and a fully stocked catering car. Day trains run between Gaborone and Francistown, while overnight trains run between Lobatse and Bulawayo, serving Gaborone and Francistown en route.
Due to the sluggish economic growth in the region and escalating costs, Botswana Railways projects a deficit in 1993/94, despite a modest increase in its freight tariff during the year. Reduced food grains movement due to the drought-affected countries of the region coupled with low traffic from the soda ash plant at Sua Pan point to a currently unfavorable situation adversely affecting profitability.