More articles in this category
Top Stories

President Hage Geingob has described the late liberation war heroine Angelika Muharukua as a selfless cadre whose qualities are now rare to find. ...

Swapo 2017: What Have They Done This is the third part in a series where The Villager will analyse what each of 11 Swapo Party top four candida...

Controversially “deposed” president of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) Ismael Kasuto has exclusively told The Villager t...

Some members of the Ondonga community want the police officers who harassed them during a peaceful meeting at Okakodhi in Oshikoto prosecuted. ...

Swapo 2017: What Have They Done This is the second part in a series where The Villager will analyse what each of 11 Swapo Party top four candid...

Adv. Vekuii Rukoro has said that the German government is trying to avoid the charges lodged against it for the Ovaherero and Nama genocide during...

Other Articles from The Villager

TransNamib needs N$12b for complete turnaround

Mon, 1 December 2014 16:34
by Tiri Masawi and Timoteus Shihepo
News Flash

TransNamib will need about N$12b
(N$3b for improving operations
and N$9b for improving railway
infrastructure countrywide) for the
company to achieve its planned turnaround
strategy within a period of at least three years or
more The Villager can reveal.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of
TransNamib, Hippy Tjivikua told The Villager
that although the turnaround strategy will not be
an easy feat, if the N$12b is availed and support
rendered, there is nothing that will stop the
railway company, which has had a fair share of
challenges, from being self-sustainable.
Tjivikua said most of the rails are old and this
has resulted in locomotives driving at a lower
speed because the infrastructure may disintegrate
and may cause derailment when they have to
travel at commercial speed.
“If you want the railway to work at an
optimum levels in this country you need
approximately N$3b to inject in operations and
approximately N$9b to inject rail infrastructure.
A total of like N$12b will be required and it’s
double if we have commitment because railways
are a catalyst for other sectors as well,” he said
adding that, “If we don’t transport goods for the
fuel industry we affect a lot of other industries
and consumers as well. If we don’t transport the
required tonnage for the mines it’s a risk as the
production will go down and eventually there is
a dominant effect where it reflects on the profits.
Yes we will require a significant amount of cash
injection as the initial amount (N$450m) which
was announced by the Board of Directors is
insufficient and it can all only attend to some
priority needs of the company. The N$12b that
is required will perhaps be faced in about three
to four years by buying rolling stock, repair and
rehabilitate the rail infrastructure.”
Although he acknowledges that many people
will be shocked with the figures, he draws
comparisons with how South Africa has pledged
to spend close to N$300b to have their railway
network in a good state.
Railway ownership
Tjivikua also revealed that the management
will be happy if they had control of the railway
infrastructure although he says this is more
preferable if the railway network is in better
shape.
“There is an agreement between TransNamib
and the shareholder in a sense that the rail
infrastructure at the moment belongs to the state
and we are just merely the operator but we have
a maintenance agreement with the state but it has
been unfortunate that most of the infrastructure
around the country is extremely old. It does not
really help to own the infrastructure while you
have to rehabilitate. Most of the sections they
have to be rehabilitated and it will require a lot of
capital,” he said.
He added that, “The infrastructure can be
handed over to TransNamib provided that it’s in
good condition because if we inherit the railway
now we won’t be able to maintain it. I believe
that the infrastructure can only be handed to
TransNamib when we are really self-sustaining
and very profitable but for now I think the
arrangement (with Government) is fine.”
Tjivikua has also revealed that the N$265m
worth of locomotives that were bought by the
company that were deemed not fit to operate on
the Namibian tracks have been decommissioned.
“Some of them have been decommissioned
and scrapped we call it four CKD locomotives
and they are not part of the operations anymore.”
Potential to link industries
Tjivikua also said that TransNamib has to the
potential to improve the economy should they
link the whole country with railway tracks but
he warned that it’s an initiative that they can’t
embark on alone.
“The demand from all kind of businesses
whether it’s for transport of mineral goods,
containers or fuel or any other goods the demand
is extremely high but over a long period of time
especially after independence whoever was in
charge of TransNamib or who was planning they
did not make provisions for the gradual increase
in the problems commiserate with the economy
so the capacity remain stagnant and when you
have accidents and some of the wagons you have
to retire them the capacity also became much
less,” he said.
He added that, “In that regard that’s where
we lost our competitiveness but I think if we
put in sufficient capital, we will reclaim our
position. If you look at Namport is one of the
best and our roads are great when compared to
other parts of Africa but for long our railway
has been neglected its high time that sufficient
funding must be allocated towards the rail
infrastructure that is now the permanent rail as
well as the rolling stock. We need to have durable
locomotives because when you buy locomotives
they are supposed to last between 25 to 30 years
even if it’s running daily however most of our
locomotives are 48 years old which means they
are extremely old and it’s a challenge. Most of
these rolling stocks are behind their life span.”
New era
According to Tjivikua, TransNamib is
entering a new era where they are becoming
a real commercialised entity where they are
business driven.
“We are welcome to other opportunities
which are in the market if there is an institution
that wants to work with us we are open to engage
them and we cannot say no,” he said.
Tjivikua has also not ruled out the possibility
of following the model practiced by South
Africa’s Transnet-which is s fully owned by
the South African government but operates as
a corporate entity aimed at both supporting and
contributing to the country’s freight logistics
network.
“When I mention N$12b in Namibia
people will be shocked but we must realize
that our neighbours, South Africa they have a
commitment over seven years to invest N$300b
in rail infrastructure. So the amount that I am
talking about is not sufficient. Transnet is also
putting a N$100b in their ports infrastructure but
when they try to expand Namport using N$3b
it’s regarded as a big thing in Namibia but it’s
not sufficient because Namibia has a potential
to serve Botswana, Southern Angola, Zambia,
Zimbabwe or even the DRC and we can equally
serve the Northern Cape of South Africa.
Our railway has been limitation because
we are not even connected to Botswana
or Zambia and that’s were some of the
goods lies.”
Skills deficit
Tjivikua has also admitted that
TransNamib is facing skills shortages
but said that it’s a situation that is top
of the agenda which will be solved
early as next year.
“TransNamib used to be the
skill provider to other industries
like mining whereby we will
recruit apprentices, technicians and
engineers but they will be easily
consumed by the mining sector
after they graduate. We cannot deny
that we have skills deficit but we
have started to address that and its
part of the arrangement such as the
one we signed with NIMT (Namibian
Institute of Mining and Technology). We
need Electrical engineers, Mechanical
engineers, Civil engineers we need people
who are electrician and those that can fix
the locomotives. Next year you will see
an influx of recruitments to help address
this issue,” he said. He also said that they
have an agreement with Transnet to supply
them with engineers when they supply
the parastatal with locomotives. These
engineers will teach the local people and
such support is for five years.
Labour cases
Tjivikua also added that he is eager
to do away with unnecessary labour
disputes in a bid to usher in a new dawn
for the company.
“Whether I am going to act or
permanent during my tenure I am
hoping to remove these unacceptable
labour cases. We need to have a
relationship and do what is right,
back one another and people must be
humble we don’t want to compromise
on that. Mutual respect is important
and I don’t want to have issues
with my team. The Board and the
Minister is very supportive towards
the company and they also want to
see the turn-around strategy of the
company executed successfully,” he
said.