On 18 May 2015 a handing-over ceremony for a newly restored narrow-gauge steam engine train took place at Arandis. In attendance were the Mayor of Arandis, Daniel Muuhura, the Executive Director of the Namibia Institute for Mining and Technology, Eckhart Müller, the Deputy Head of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Ullrich Kinne as well as 600 students and guests. The restauration of the steam engine was supported by the German Embassy with a sum of up to 250.000,00 N$ in the framework of Germany’s cultural heritage programme.
According to Ullrich Kinne: “Since 1981, Germany has been supporting the preservation of cultural heritage across the globe as part of the Federal Foreign Office’s Cultural Preservation Programme. Namibia is one of the major recipients: Since 1985, approx. 10 million N$ have been made available for projects which preserve the rich cultural heritage of this country.”
The narrow-gauge steam engine, its coal wagon as well as three other historic wagons, one for passengers, one for goods, and one for cattle, which were restored by students of the Namibia Institute for Mining and Technology (NIMT), symbolise the beginning of the railway age in Namibia and are therefore of great cultural significance. In September of 1897, the work on Namibia’s first major railway line between Swakopmund and Windhoek began. Before that there was only a small mining rail line at Cape Cross in operation, built in 1985. With stations in Wellwitsch, Karibib and Okahandja among others, the railway line eventually reached Windhoek in June 1902. It was constructed as a 600mm narrow gauge railway line and operated until 1960.
The steam engine that was handed over was already in use before the First World War and is the last one of its kind in Namibia. Its restauration thus makes an important contribution to preserving Namibia’s cultural heritage.