Key railway rolls forward
The station is named after Chief Nehale lyaMpingana, who spearheaded a strong resistance against the German colonial forces early in the 20th century.
Founding president Dr Sam Nujoma had launched the Northern Railway Extension Project/Tsumeb-Oshikango Railway Line near Oshivelo in the Oshikoto region on 15 March 2002 and the project construction from Tsumeb to Ondangwa commenced on 12 June 2002.
The former president at that stage called upon the public and private sectors of the Namibian economy to help building the railway and more than 40 000 volunteers from all walks of life heeded his call and assisted in the building of this, the first railway project in the region for many years.
Institutions and individuals have since the start of the project made donations, both monetary and in kind.
President Pohamba praised everyone who had volunteered to work on the first 246km of the national project:
“Because of your hard work, through your sweat and your toil, Namibia is today proud to have a national asset that will serve the Namibian people for many years to come,” he said.
The first phase of the new railway line was co-financed by the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (US$4,9 million) and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (US$8,96 million).
The railway will link up with the rail system of southern Angola, which still needs to be rehabilitated, and will eventually form part of the Namibe-Lubango-Oshikango-Walvis Bay Development Corridor.
“By extending the existing railway network, this new infrastructure brings many new opportunities and benefits for our country and her people, as well as for the wider SADC Region,” Pohamba stated.
He added that the Tsumeb-Oshikango Railway Line/ Northern Railway Extension Line would provide affordable, safe and reliable transport for goods and passengers within Namibia and boost trade between Namibia and Angola.
Trade between other countries in the sub-region such as Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Pohamba said, would also be boosted by the Northern Railway Extension Line.
Pohamba also said the line is expected to boost the realisation of the Walvis Bay-Namibe Transport Corridor on the west coast of the African continent as envisaged in the SADC Protocol on Transport and Meteorology.
“The Corridor will serve as a route for imports and exports to and from Namibia as well as our land-locked neighbours in the region”.
He added that the Line will strengthen the tourism sector in the country by providing travellers with a unique opportunity to see the beautiful scenery of different parts of Namibia starting from the south to the north of the country.
The Line, according to Pohamba, will also lead to a substantial decrease in cargo transport on Namibian roads and thereby reduce maintenance costs of the national road network.
“I believe that the development of this infrastructure should be seen as part of our broader efforts to address the challenges of poverty and unemployment, where the small and medium enterprises sector must play a central role, the Namibian leader said.”
Speaking at the same occasion, founding president Sam Nujoma said all African countries were now politically independent, but without economic independence this was meaningless.
“We have to work hard and bring infrastructure to our countries, as we have done now,” Nujoma said.
In his address, Works, Transport and Communications Minister Joel Kaapanda disclosed that 44 000 volunteers physically worked on the 246.5km first phase (Tsumeb-Ondangwa) of the project and have completed 22 000 tasks.
The section of the project between Tsumeb and Oshivelo, according to Kaapanda, was constructed using mechanical-based contracts because of the difficult geological strata.
He noted also that about 24 contracts were awarded to handle various construction components in the first phase of the project and all the project components were completed to the required operational standards and specifications.
There are three station on the line from Tsumeb to Ondangwa: the Dr Sam Nujoma Station at Oshivelo, the Omuthiyagwiipundi Station at Omuthiyagwiipundi and the Nehale lyaMpingana Station at Ondangwa.
“In monetary terms, Phase One of the project required N$ 841 million to be completed,” the Minister said
After the commissioning ceremony, President Hifikepunye Pohamba handed trophies to Nujoma, the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) and the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSS), in recognition of their contribution to the project.
Phase two will go from Ondangwa to Oshikango and is to commence soon, while a rail link from Ondangwa to Oshakati is also planned.
The link from Ondangwa to Oshakati will be the Third Phase of the Northern Railway Line Extension Project.