I am happy to note the debate sparked by my earlier comments.
I searched for the fundamental disagreement my friend Mihe suggested and could not find any.
I thank him though for the historical perspective which is always important for contextualisation.
What we need more expediently is how to go henceforth in order to attain our development goals set in NDP IV.
Four (4) strategic areas/Economic priorities have been identified for the development of Namibia in the next five years by NDP IV, inter alia logistics.
NDP 4 has it that “The desired outcome is for Namibia to lay the foundation for establishing itself as a regional leader in logistics and distribution. The Port of Walvis Bay is seen as the preferred West Coast port in Africa as well as the preferred corridor for Southern African Logistics operations to be reflected in doubled volume in cargo handling and rail –transported cargo (objective) to and from the port.”
The economic imperative for cooperation between Namport, TransNamib and WBCG is in the latter objective. The impetus for economic progress in logistics is in how soon we achieve this cooperation and not whether these entities should cooperate or not and I dare to add irrespective of who wronged whom and who committed which mistakes.
When the driver of this agenda suggests that this objective is unattainable in the next five years he not only delays us but derails economic progress. Accelerated progress is a non- negotiable imperative to get us out of poverty and lacklustre bureaucracy is the enemy of progress. In the ‘execution section’ of NDPIV it is stated that ‘we have been good at identifying issues to be addressed but are challenged by implementing high quality solutions in time. Hopefully if we streamline the activities and improve on how they are prioritised and coordinated, our execution rate will also improve’.
Hence my call for a joint approach and regulation of our government’s transport operators through a singular holding entity, without disregard to the separate mandates or technical operations of the distinct operating entities.
This will eradicate duplicity of functions, capitalising of synergies and bring about much needed focus. We need a mind-set and people that are angry with mediocrity and that regards economic progress as exigent. There is sufficient financial and legal genius in our country to set up the necessary legislative and contractual frameworks for this indispensable cooperation framework.
NDPIV suggests that appropriate investment in public infrastructure shall be one of the basic enablers to achieve the above objective by stating that “By 2017, Namibia shall have a well-functioning, high quality transport infrastructure connected to major local and regional markets as well as linked to the Port of Walvis Bay: 70% of railway network to comply with Sadc axle load recommendations of 18.5 tonnes.”
My suggestion for a merger was primarily motivated by the fact that TransNamib seems to be a bit financially challenged to attain this objective in the next five years on their own and we (the country) need a solution to this.
The easiest way is to call on the shareholder to ‘come in’, in common parlance. Since Namport however also belongs to the same shareholder is it really such a fundamental impropriety to call on this sister company, Namport to assist. Mind you not to subsidise as my friend suggests but to assist in such manner that will bring economic benefit to Namport too, without unduly holding the shareholder to ransom. Namport has the capacity to assist financially in securing the capital necessary to attain the latter objective.
The other basic enabler propounded by NDP IV is an appropriate institutional environment. The formation of a transport holding company in Namibia will bring about such required institutional environment. I reiterate there is sufficient financial and legal genius in our country to set up the necessary legislative and contractual frameworks for this indispensable cooperation framework.
ISO is a standard and a desirable standard at it. While Namport should be congratulated for having attained this standard as well as running its business on sound principles as my colleague says, there is no reason why TransNamib can’t attain this too.
We are able comrade. Remember that Namport was not so profitable less than 10 years ago, it hovered between minus N$3m to plus N$ 3m NPAT. It took love, passion and hard work by ordinary Namibians to bring it to its deserved and much celebrated glory today.
We can do this for TransNamib too. By example the port operating company (Namport) will always have to maintain their ISO certification. The railway operating company (TransNamib) properly ring-fenced will commence the process of seeking ISO certification under the guidance and with funding from the Transport holding company, with the assistance of the already attained experience of sister Namport.
Once TransNamib catches up, as it were, single certification for the holding company could be sought. In my friend’s analogy what I am suggesting is that the owner (government) secures sustainability for both his cattle (Namport and TransNamib) instead of letting the one (TransNamib) perish, because he won’t let it grace on the other’s (Namport’s) plot.
Our national approach should not be about boasting with regard to safety, efficiency and quick turnaround times internationally of Namport only, but rather about attaining our own set national development goals, yes and parading proudly so, an efficient transport industry in Namibia for the benefit of Namibia and our hinterland