Mmegi Online :: Gaborone Sebele Halt - Our Heritage
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Monday 24 September 2018, 15:01 pm.
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Gaborone Sebele Halt - Our Heritage

The Presidentís recent announcement that the passenger train is to be re-introduced provides an excellent reason for bringing the railway line back to public attention.
By Sandy Grant Wed 19 Nov 2014, 16:06 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Gaborone Sebele Halt - Our Heritage








When the passenger service was discontinued five years ago, it could perhaps have had the effect of bringing the pre-railway axis back to the life- and the revival of the old traditional capitals, Kanye, Molepolole and Shoshong. 

This didn’t happen because those centres had been by-passed not just by the railway but by the new road that more or less accompanied the railway line from south to north.  Because the Dikgosi of the two smaller tribes, the Bakgatla and the Balete, had less land to provide for the new railway, the capitals of each one, Mochudi and Ramotswa, were well positioned to take advantage of the main north south road when the passenger service came to an end.

The Dikgosi of the three very much larger tribes, the Bangwato, Bangwaketse and Bakwena, were able to provide more land for the railway and thus to place their capitals at a distance both from the railway and from the new north south road. 

In the event, it is not at all clear to me that either Mochudi or Ramotswa have particularly benefitted from their access to major communication routes but it is obvious how Lobatse, Gaborone, Mahalapye, Palapye and Francistown have effectively eclipsed Kanye, Molepolole and Shoshong/Serowe.  The termination of the passenger service five years ago has also brought about other changes. Names of places which were once familiar to everyone – because the old mixed train used to stop there – have slipped from public consciousness and may never

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come back.

Consider the names of the 51 stations and halts along the 650 kilometres or so of line between the Zimbabwe and South African borders.  Where the lines of rail and the line of road run closely together, there will have been little change.  But halts and even stations such as Malotwana – once a major stop, Linchwe, Mpepu, and Mosupabatho, will, even in this very short period, have gone from public memory. Indeed the place name, Sebele, once a key loading point for the old free hold farm, Content is now known only because of the new shopping mall. 

A quick look at the railway line at somewhere like Kgale is also instructive because it gives a very good idea of the way that much of the old track was abandoned when the line became freight only – and how this will need to be expensively restored to its proper state if passenger trains are to be regularly using it.

The luxury Rovos train does, we know, occasionally pass through the country en route to the Vic Falls – but, not so long ago, it did come off the line soon after leaving Ramatlhabama. That may have been one such accident in several years. But these things rarely get reported. Now it would be of great interest if we could be given some idea of the upgrading that will be required if the line is again to be used for a regular passenger service.

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