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Staff Writer

A TransNamib goods train has derailed with 10 of its wagons close to Rossing Thursday afternoon, thrusting the company into yet another awkward moment which has become synonymous with failure.

The company’s spokesperson, Abigail Raubenheimer, however, blamed ageing infrastructure on Thursday afternoon but expressed relief that there were no injuries or fatalities. 

“At approximately between 11 am and 12 pm, we did have an incident where 10 wagons derailed between the Namib and the Rossing fuel station. So, fortunately, there were no injuries, and no one was harmed. We immediately activated our emergency response plan.”

“We have also immediately launched an investigation into the matter. So, unfortunately, the (railway) line has been closed. We are now busy doing recovery as well as trying our hardest to get the line restored so that we can restore services,” she said. 

Sheriff Sean Naude of the Namibia Marshall Rangers said a member of his unit witnessed the accident and called the police immediately. 

“What happened is that the wagons on their own were busy rolling. So, the actual train and locomotive were about 5Km away from where the carriages derailed around a corner. We can’t say exactly what just happened, but it seems like it got detached while busy travelling, and the carriages started rolling backwards towards Swakopmund.”

“They phoned the police to inform them that this is busy happening and to warn people as those carriages were rolling at high speed into Swakop itself. They tend to pick up speed and momentum. I would say thankfully there was a bend, and they caused the carriages to derail,” he said. 

In the meantime, government has gone all the way to borrow funds for the company to turn around its fortunes to the tune of N$2,6 billion from the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) and Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). 

The money is to be used for remanufacturing of rolling stock, acquisition of new rolling stock, modernisation of the TransNamib workshop and upgrading of signalling equipment, including spares and associated equipment.

At the same time, by January this year, the company had recorded a staggering 195 train derailments over the past four years, further putting the doubt on the current leadership’s ability to steer the company off the doomed path toward an eventual collapse.

However, Raubenheimer said so much is happening behind the scenes to get things right again at the beleaguered state entity. 

“We are working hard in terms of putting plans in place, but if you want to know, we have got challenges without infrastructure. A lot of these problems really root from those, especially with outdated infrastructure.”

“If you look at some of the locomotives that we are operating on, they are more than 50 years old. The life span of a locomotive is 25 years old. However, there is good news, as you may be well aware of, we have managed to secure funding which came through in March, so we are really now busy in the process of addressing those challenges,” said Raubenheimer.

Naude expressed that the only way out for TransNamib would be if it were to go the privatisation route, a move which the unions have resisted. 

“This is where as a nation, we get disappointed in our leadership, in our government, and the only way we are going to save this country is if we privatise. When people are privatising and getting involved as a nation, then they get things done.”

“But when you are depending on government, you are going to fail. If you get something for free, if I give somebody a car for free, they are not going to look after it because it has been given to them for free, and this is the mentality that we have in government,” he said.




Staff Writer

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