Nghimtina’s OVER N$75b empire

December 2011/January 2012
Other Articles
From problem child TransNamib, then Air Namibia to several maturing but hotheaded parastatals; plus the flouting of tender regulations, Nghimtina says it all...

Prime Focus wraps up the year with yet another exclusive interview with Erkki Nghimtina, Minister of Works and Transport and an untiring and determined ruling Swapo-party stalwart, also one of the longest serving ministers. In this article, Nghimtina talks about how he joined the National Assembly, his time as Deputy Minister and the then Minister of Defence and the challenges he faced during his tenure..

He further enlightens us about his reign as the Minister of mines and energy and how he enthusiastically worked to restructure and reform the Mining Industry and the Energy Sector.

Last but not least, Nghimtina gives highlights about being the man-in-charge of safeguarding N$75b worth of roads, rail and Government buildings, aviation infrastructure, ports, etc and how he is tackling his responsibilities at the Ministry of Works and Transport; a ministry that of late has been accused of flouting tender rules and regulations. Here, Nghimtina takes this media broom to clean the misconception.

PF: You are one of the senior Ministers who have been in Parliament for over 15 years. Tell us about your journey and how you got into the National Assembly.

EN: Just before I was appointed to go to the National Assembly by President Sam Nujoma as one of his six non-voting members in 1995, I was a colonel in the Namibian Defence Force (NDF). My appointment was, at that juncture, as a deputy defence minister. I felt honoured to be called for duty by His Excellency; the then President Dr. Sam Nujoma and I accepted the appointment with an open heart to serve Namibia.

PF: Were you happy to be appointed as deputy minister in 1995, or did you feel like you deserved a full ministerial position?

EN: I came from humble beginnings and as an African and Swapo-party child, I cannot choose what to be given. So, I was happy because the appointment came as a surprise. I did not ask the President to appoint me, but I was always, and will always be ready for any role that the President may see fit for me. Throughout my career, I have always worked hard, knowing that hard work pays dividends. I served as the deputy minister for two years until I was appointed as Minister of Defence in 2007. That made me even happier, because I believed that my hard work was being recognised.

PF: What are the notable highlights during your time at the Ministry of Defence?

EN: The appointment as Minister of Defence in 2007 meant that I had to take up more responsibilities as the man-in-charge of defence matters. I was put into the spotlight in the late 1990s when I had to deal with several emergencies that required military response. In 1998, Namibia sent troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to shore up President Laurent Kabila and prevent Kinshasa falling into rebel hands. Almost a year later, the separatist Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA) launched several attacks in Katima Mulilo. As the 1990s came to an end, we had to allow Angolan military troops to use north-eastern Namibia as a launch pad for attacks against National Union for Total Independence of Angola (Unita). There was an upsurge in attacks on civilians in Kavango and eastern Caprivi that brought an increased presence of Namibian troops in that area and ultimately NDF had to supervene inside Angola in pursuit of Unita fighters. That required well planned strategies to ensure that we succeed and we did indeed. You may also remember the state of emergency in Caprivi in 1999; a situation which required an immediate army placement to take charge of Caprivi. The media alleged that the Ministry of Defence had military presence in Cuando Cubango Province in an effort to flush out Unita. However, the truth of the matter is that the Ministry of Defence periodically pushed their enemies out of Namibia.

I am also happy to say that I was involved in the setting up of the August 26 Holding company, which has become a very successful company today. The company, through its Windhoeker Machinenfabrik (WMF) subsidiary, also produces armoured vehicles for the NDF and the export market, as well as Satcom producing Military Radios, etc.

PF: The Defence Bill was debated when you were still at Defence. What necessitated it?

EN: We needed to validate restrictive measures in the new Bill, which made it an offence to publish information calculated or likely to endanger our national security or the safety of members of the Defence Force. The measures were necessary as we realised that editors, proprietors and printers were not security conscious and that their actions can compromise the security of the country and safety of our members if not controlled.

PF: What was your view on the United States’ foreign intervention when you were Minister of Defence?

EN: In 2003, the Namibian government had rejected a United States ultimatum to give American soldiers blanket immunity from prosecution in the International Criminal Court (ICC), although the US had threatened to suspend military aid to countries that did not support this proposal. I have always been a critic of wars, especially the US-led war in Iraq.

PF: In 2005, you were appointed as Minister of Mines and Energy when President Pohamba took office. What was your reaction and why do you think you were moved?

EN: First of all, I was happy to be given another chance to serve in a new role that would give me an opportunity to grow as a person in a different environment. Before I went to Mines and Energy, my whole career had been more on Defence and Security, coming from exile and serving in various capacities in the Ministry of Defence. I believe I had made my contribution at the Ministry of Defence and it was time to serve in another fitting role. Secondly, I believe that the President’s idea to “reshuffle” Cabinet was to redeploy ministers to Government offices where he felt they could continue making a positive contribution, as well as to give them a chance to become multi-skilled and to learn new things in life. It is counter-productive for an individual to remain in one place for their entire career. The President felt that I could make a positive contribution in the mining and energy sectors and appointed me as Minister of Mines and Energy.

PF: Would you say that you have met the expectations and achieved the goals you set for yourself during your tenure as Minister of Mines and Energy?

EN: The Energy and mining sector progressed well during my time as the minister responsible for those two sectors. I spearheaded and tirelessly campaigned for the reform of restructuring of the Namibian diamond industry. Such ensured that both the Namibian government and De Beers benefited on an equal basis in terms of proper profit sharing in dividends and in diamond trading. It was also on the same platform where efforts were made to ensure that locally produced diamonds are cut and polished in Namibia. As a result, 11 companies were established, including the formation of Namibia Diamond Trading Company and Epangelo Mining (a State company), to create the much needed jobs for the Namibian people. More than 1700 people have since been employed in these companies. The Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) was created for the purpose of making diamonds available for sale in Namibia for local manufacturing.

I am also happy to tell you that, at the same time, major mining licenses were issued during my term at the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Three major uranium mining licenses were issued to Langer Heinrich, Trekkopje and Valencia Uranium. Ohorongo Cement Factory’s mining license and many EPLs were also issued during my time there. About 13 oil and gas exploration licenses were also issued.

Among other reforms that the Ministry of Mines and Energy implemented for the benefit of the Namibian mining industry during my time included the imposition of paying of Royalties for other minerals other than the diamonds and dimensional stones. This means that Government now gets more than N$700m per annum in Royalties. I also facilitated the imposition of a moratorium on issuing of licenses on uranium while the Government is in the process of crafting a comprehensive uranium policy for the country.

I have been advocating for the need for Namibia to vigorously venture into sources of energy and power supply such as the Kudu Gas project to ensure that Namibia is self reliant and can meet its power and energy needs and vehemently promoted the Caprivi link inter-connector power grid from Otjiwarongo to Katima Mulilo.

PF: On 21 March 2010, you became Minister of Works and Transport and you safeguard billions of dollars worth of Government property such as buildings, roads, railway line, aviation infrastructure, ports etc. Do you feel any pressure due to the asset value of State property that you are dealing with?

EN: I can say it is a big responsibility and a challenging task for that matter. But, when you have such a big responsibility, it is satisfying when you believe in yourself believe you are doing the right things and moving in the right direction. If, for example, we happen to complete a road or a Government office project within the required time and within the approved budget, that gives me satisfaction. It is the same with tabling of an enabling legislation in Parliament and putting it into law. It is important to highlight that I am not only responsible for the safeguarding of Government property but I also propose new laws and amendments of legislations that are applicable to the Ministry of Works and Transport.

PF: You are about 20 months in your job at Works and Transport. What has the experience been so far?

EN: When the President appointed me to be Minister of Works and Transport, I had to sit down and create a positive mind of how I would discharge my new responsibilities and what we want to achieve as a collective team in the Ministry of Works and Transport. I was coming to a new place, with a complete new environment. It has not taken me much time to understand the facets of the Ministry’s operations that are derived from our mandate. I am surrounded by people who have been there for some time and they have been of great help in my quest to fulfil my duties.

PF: We learnt that there were problems at the Directorate of Civil Aviation and much has been said about the Namibian airspace in general. What can you tell us with regard to that?

EN: The Directorate of Civil Aviation was faced with shortcomings to effectively implement Standards and Recommended Practices (SARP) with respect to their obligations under the Chicago Convention. A state’s primary objective is to ensure the safeguarding and the safety of an aircraft in flight crew, passengers, ground personnel and the general public against any interference with international Civil Aviation. When a state fails to guarantee these primary responsibilities, it then results in its referral to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) – Audit Results Review Board (ARRB).

A swift decision was taken and the Ministry was directed by Cabinet to engage the services of the ICAO experts to assist Namibia in meeting its international safety oversight obligations under the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The assigned ICAO experts have worked superbly and as of March this year, Namibia was cleared from the ARRB list. The ICAO team of experts has provided numerous training in their respective fields and this has had a big impact in the way and manner in which the current DCA safety inspectors perform their duties. In addition, the implementation and enforcement of the Namibian Civil Aviation Regulations (NAMCARs) and Namibian Civil Aviation Technical Standards (NamCats) have improved immensely. Today, we can proudly assure the nation at large that our airspace safety has been restored.

PF: In terms of aviation infrastructure, how safe are they and has there been any recent upgrades?

EN: The Ministry established a New Area Control Centre for the Windhoek Flight Information Reading (FIR). The contract for the Radar Project was signed on 16 January, 2009 and the installation completed in an extremely short time of 18 Months. We are expecting to complete the first phase of the New Radar and Surveillance to be launched this December and is valued at N$255m. The Project includes the purchase of a co-mounted primary and secondary Radar, which was installed at Hosea Kutako International Airport.

The Euro-cat X processing and display system was the most modern version available on the market at the time and was installed at the Eros Area Control Centre (ACC), Hosea Kutako International Airport, Walvis Bay Airport as well at the Eros Control Tower. The Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) equipment produced in the Czech Republic was deployed at 36 sites throughout Namibia. These sites are all connected to the Central Processing System (CPS) located at the Eros ACC. The positional data obtained from the CPS as well as the data from the Radar at Hosea Kutako are connected to the Euro-cat X display system where the positions of aircraft, amongst others, are displayed to Air Traffic Controllers.

Namibia was the first country in the world to implement sole Wide Area Multilateration surveillance for nationwide coverage for such a large country. The accuracy measured in Namibia during the final flight trial was less than 80 meters where the international specifications are at 300 meters or less.

The Upgrading of Walvis Bay Airport is a part of a much wider project called the Rehabilitation and Upgrading of Airports and Air Traffic Control Systems that consists of the following components: Refurbishment of the control towers at Hosea Kutako International, Eros and Walvis Bay Airports and the provision of a fully equipped new control tower at Lüderitz Airport, as well as the installation of equipment at the Area Control Centre of the Directorate Civil Aviation at Eros Airport. This provides a link to new communication equipment at 10 remote radio stations spread across the country.

The project also involves the provision of meteorological equipment and an aeronautical information system at Hosea Kutako International, Eros, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz Airports; upgrading of the electricity stand-by equipment at Hosea Kutako International, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz airports, including a new essential and non-essential link at Hosea Kutako International Airport. Other works include the upgrading of the airport lighting system at Hosea Kutako International, Eros and Lüderitz airports and the provision of runway, taxiway, apron and approach lights at Walvis Bay Airport.

In addition to the widening and lengthening of the runway at Walvis Bay, the provision of a new apron and taxiway for wide bodied aircraft, the installation of an Instrument Lansing System and the erection of perimeter security fencing at Walvis Bay Airport and the deviation of the access road leading to the airport have also formed part of this exercise.

PF: In terms of the roads, how is the Ministry succeeding in the expansion of the road network?

EN: We are facing many challenges in that regard. The biggest one is that we are forced to divert money for road network expansion to reconstruct the roads that have been damaged by heavy floods since the flood problem started in 2008. The money that we have at the moment is just not enough because road constructions are very expensive. Due to the circumstances we find ourselves in, I can say we are pleased with what we have done so far to ensure that access has been restored where roads were washed away by the rains.

Despite these challenges, during the Financial Year 2010/2011, the Ministry implemented a total number of 26 road projects of which road constructions and upgrading accounted for 25 projects. One, road rehabilitation and maintenance project was carried out during the same period. The Ministry has succeeded in achieving the construction and upgrading of rural gravel roads to bitumen standards and a total of 382km have now been completed. These roads are: Rosh Pinah-Sengligdrift (21km), MR67 Kamanjab-Omakange (204km), DR3611 Oshikuku – Okalongo (23km) and Rundu–Elundu: Phase I (134km). There are ongoing projects of a total of 630km of road construction to be upgraded to bitumen standard and are expected to be completed in the near future. These are Rundu–Elundu: Phase II (236km), MR 122 Okahao-Omakange (83km), TR14/2 Gobabis-Otjinene (157km), TR15/1 Tsumeb-Katwitwi Section A (70km) and TR 15/1 Tsumeb–Katwitwi; Section B (70km), which will provide a reliable infrastructure, linking the central, northern and southern Namibia to Angola via the Katwitwi border and DR3611 Oshikuku–Okalongo to Omuvelo wa Kasamane (14km), which will provide a reliable infrastructure linking the central, northern and southern Namibia to Angolan via the Okalongo border.

Among other projects, a total of 405km of rural gravel roads were constructed with the longest one being a 235km Epukiro-Eiseb-Gam gravel road. This gravel road provides a reliable transport infrastructure for the Omaheke farmers and the community alike. Furthermore, about 145.25km of rural gravel road in several regions were implemented and commenced and are progressing well. The road rehabilitation and maintenance program amounted to a total distance of 137km completed during the 2010/11. Several temporary jobs that proved beneficial to the communities living along these areas have been created during the undertaking of these projects.

PF: Your Ministry is also responsible for road safety. Considering the high number of road accidents in Namibia what are the Ministry’s plans to mitigate the high rate of accidents on our roads?

EN: I would like to start by clearly saying that the safety on our roads is the responsibility of every Namibian and every road user. Many accidents have been caused by reckless driving, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, driving of vehicles that are not roadworthy etc. You can agree with me that the Ministry has limited control of individual actions such as driving under the influence of alcohol. It is on that basis that I have to emphasise that this is a shared responsibility of all the stakeholders involved. On the part of the Ministry, we are doing all that is necessary to ensure safety on our roads.

Following the Global Ministers of Transport and Health Conference held in Moscow in November 2009 and the Declaration of the Decade of Action by the United Nations General Assembly in March 2010, Cabinet authorized the Ministry of Works and Transport together with its implementing agencies to develop appropriate modalities and strategies as to how the Decade of Action could be implemented in Namibia. This resulted in Namibia launching the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 on 11 May this year. Subsequent to the launch of the Decade of Action, a successful conference with civil society and faith-based organisations was organised and held in Swakopmund in July. this year.

The conference adopted a strategy on how both the civil society and faith based organisations could participate in the advocacy of road safety in Namibia. In addition, a number of co-operation agreements on road safety were signed by NBC, Namibian Police, etc. Further agreements are being negotiated with other institutions, such as local authorities in Namibia. The Ministry has submitted the plan of action, which is aimed at curbing the increasing carnage on the national roads and will subsequently reduce the high rate of fatalities caused by road accidents to Cabinet for approval and implementation of the plan will be carried out vigorously.

As per the Cabinet-approved Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 strategy, the National Road Safety Council, in collaboration with Gesundheits-Informations-Zentrum GIZ formerly GTZ, Namibian Police, City of Windhoek, Roads Authority, MVA Fund, Walvis Bay Corridor Group and other stakeholders held the very first National Road Safety Conference early last month in Walvis Bay. Representatives of institutions involved in various pillars or themes of the Decade of Action Strategy attended the conference to map the way forward. The conference was organised to provide a platform for all stakeholders to interrogate and finally agree on the generic Terms of Reference for and constitution of road safety (Theme Committees), which will play a vital role in ensuring co-ordination of role player activities within each theme. In addition, the conference was used as a beacon to signal our departure point as we move towards full implementation of the Decade of Action and a firm foundation was cast for better road safety programmes in Namibia.

PF: The condition of the railway line has been termed as being in “bad shape” by some people. When do we expect the Government to stop neglecting the railway line and rehabilitate the rail network?

EN: I would be the first person to agree that many parts of the railway line need urgent attention. That does not mean we are neglecting the railway network. It all comes down to the limited financial resources that we have at our disposal. But, progress is visible. I would like to make reference to the establishment of a concrete sleeper Manufacturing Factory in Tsumeb. This is a joint effort between Ministry of Works and Transport, TransNamib Holdings Ltd and GPT-InfraProjects for manufacturing concrete sleepers for the rehabilitation of the aging railway lines as well as for the new railway line construction activities.

Similarly, the Ministry has recently entered into an agreement with VAE a South Africa (Pty) Ltd., which is part of the voestalpine Schienen GmbH; an Austrian company, specialised in railway line products and equipment for the manufacture and delivery of the 13 200 metric tons of 48kg/m, 36 meter-long rails. The acquired 5 700tons and 7 500tons will be used for the construction of the permanent ways between Ondangwa–Oshikango and Aus to Luderitz railway line respectively. The consignment of 13 200 tons of rail were delivered 6 months ahead of schedule.

I am also happy to announce that the Ministry of Works and Transport, on behalf of the Government, entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Transport and Communication of Botswana to facilitate the development of the TransKalahari Railway Line link. A pre-feasibility study on this railway line link has been completed.

Railway rehabilitation and upgrade work took place on the Aus-Luderitz Railway Line, Kranzberg-Tsumeb rehabilitation and the construction of the permanent way of the Northern Railway Line Extension Phase II (Ondangwa to Oshikango) has commenced. A total of 2 794 longitudinal beam panels for the Aus to Luderitz railway line rehabilitation and upgrade works have been produced at a factory in Aus.

The earthworks for this section have also been completed. The construction of the permanent way for this section is planned to start early next year. As for the Kranzberg-Tsumeb rehabilitation, a consultant who will conduct a survey and collect technical data necessary for the rehabilitation of this railway line link has been appointed. The construction of the station buildings at Oshikango have also been completed and handed over to TransNamib Holdings Ltd for operations and management. Another positive note is the restoration and resumption of service of railway line sections between Ariamsvlei and Karasburg, which was damaged (washed-away) by floods earlier in the year. We have also successfully completed the relaying of 9.6km of rail tracks between Windhoek and Okahandja, which meets Sadc standards of carrying capacity of 18.5 tons axle load.

PF: Your Ministry was recently accused of not practicing fairness in the award and supply of rail tenders. Was there any truth in these claims?

EN: What I can say on that matter is, the Ministry called a tender for the supply of 13 200 metric tons of 48kg/m, 36 meter-long rails for the construction of the permanent roads between Ondangwa–Oshikango and Aus to Luderitz railway lines. A disgruntled tenderer, Shetu Trading (cc), who claimed entitlement of being awarded this tender, despite failing to meet some critical tender requirements; legally challenged the Government’s decision to award the tender to another tenderer. The Government successfully defended its decision to award the tender to the successful bidder in the High Court on more than two occasions of legal challenges. The Ministry of Works and Transport proved to the Court that there was neither tampering with tender documents, nor undue influence in tender evaluation processes, or in tender award. Therefore, the decision to award the tender to VAE SA Pty Ltd was not erroneous. That in itself is an indication that the Ministry conducts its businesses, more especially the procurement process, in a very transparent and valued manner.

PF: We have seen the introduction of the Zambezi River water transport. Can you tell us more about that?

EN: The Ministry acquired and commissioned the Zambezi River Landing Craft in Katima Mulilo in July last year. The need for the Landing Craft (boat) was necessitated by the need to minimise the problems being experienced by the residents of Impalila Island. Residents of the island are virtually cut off from the mainland and depend largely on services from Botswana for their survival. A crew of four was duly appointed to man the Landing Craft.

PF: The Ministry of Works and Transport has been criticised for poor maintenance of Government property and slow implementation of capital projects. Has there been any progress to address the sticking points in that regard?

EN: We have a massive asset base of over N$25b worth of Government buildings. International Standards require that that maintenance of such assets should be 2% of the total value. This amounts to N$500 million that should be budgeted for every after five years for maintenance. However, because of other pressing needs in the country, we do not get that kind of money for maintenance purposes. We have therefore learnt to do more with the little we have.

I would like to highlight that the Ministry successfully finalised the handing over of maintenance functions in the regions to the thirteen Regional Councils as part of the decentralisation process under the Delegation phase. The construction of two new regional offices at Omuthiya in the Oshikoto region, and Outapi in the Omusati region has been completed. The Decentralisation of functions will improve maintenance work flow in all the 13 regions. Further, the Ministry developed a Maintenance Management Framework document that has been distributed to all offices, ministries, agencies and regional councils to serve as a guideline on the maintenance of Government facilities and related infrastructure. The Ministry also successfully managed to facilitate the creation of individual maintenance units in offices, ministries, agencies of Government to take responsibility for preventative and routine maintenance activities to facilities occupied by them. This enables the Ministry as custodian of all Government buildings and infrastructure to properly budget and attend to real maintenance issues.

On the part of capital projects, the Ministry has a long standing shortage of vital skills in professional areas to effectively live up to its mandate. Government salary packages are viewed to be much below the market-related remunerations. As a result, professionals are not attracted to Government. The Ministry is widely consulting with several stakeholders at the moment to develop a better structured remuneration framework.

In terms of processes, we have now developed timeframes for implementation of capital projects. The capital project cycle document is being widely distributed and consulted upon by offices, ministries and agencies of Government. Despite all the problems, the Ministry managed to realise a 75% implementation rate on construction projects on the Development Budget during the period under review. That means we have improved and would like to reach a 95%+ implementation of capital projects in the next few years.

In order to maximise efficiency and to avoid dependence on consultants, the Ministry is in a process of reviving an in-house design office where the planning and design of some projects will be dealt with by our own professionals and technical staff, reducing the cost of outsourcing to the private sector. This is expected to improve the work flow and the Ministry will have more control on project time management.

PF: What are the State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) that fall under your jurisdiction and could you give an overview on their recent engagements?

EN: The number of SoEs that fall under the Ministry of Works and Transport have recently increased to seven entities, after the transfer of Air Namibia from the Ministry of Finance. The ones that have been under us for the past few years are Namibia Ports Authority, TransNamib Holdings Ltd, Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA), Namibia Airports Company, Roads Authority and Roads Contractor Company.

Air Namibia has just started with the implementation of its five-year Strategic Plan 2011/12-2015/16 that is aimed at achieving constant commercial success and that will make it contribute positively to the sustainable socio-economic development of Namibia. Part of the Strategic Plan is the acquisition of modern aeroplanes and alignment of internal processes. The company will roll-out several new routes and frequencies in order to increase the economies of scale and air travellers can expect improved travelling experience. The Government has committed to help the company with financial resources in the next few years and it is expected that the subsidence of Air Namibia will eventually come to an end due to the anticipated positive performance in the near future.

As for NamPort, we have seen the company realising a 3% growth in total cargo handled, revenue growth of 14% (5% excluding straight-lining), operating profit margin of 32%, capital expenditure of N$154m and total assets worth of N$2.6b in the financial year that ended on 31 August this year. The company is expected to undertake major developments at the Port of Walvis Bay at a total cost of approximately N$4b in the near future.

With regard to TransNamib, last year’s results have reflected a net profit of N$65m, bouncing back from loss making, which has been experienced in the past few years by the national rail courier. There seems to have been great improvement in the financial matter of the company and we are hopeful that the company will continue to post good results. The company is considering the possibility of providing Commuter Services between Walvis Bay – Arandis and Windhoek – Okahandja. This will relieve some pressure on road traffic congestion.

Namibia Airports Company Limited (NAC) is tasked with the management and operation of Eros, Hosea Kutako International, Katima Mulilo, Keetmashoop, Lüderitz, Ondangwa, Rundu and Walvis Bay Airports, based on sound business principles in the best interest of the Government. During the past 18 months, the company has undertaken major capital expenditure, which included the rehabilitation of the runway and apron areas of the Hosea Kutako International Airport, estimated at a total cost of N$120m. The company further undertook the construction of the state-of-the-art Walvis Bay Fire Station at an estimated cost of N$10m and the construction of the Lüderitz Fire Station at an estimated cost of N$3m.

The Motor Vehicle Accident Fund has adopted a plan based on three Key Result Areas (KRAs) namely Accident and Injury Prevention, Emergency Transportation and Rehabilitation and Operational Excellence to mitigate the ever increasing carnage on our national roads. Among the commendable efforts is when the Fund entered into partnership with E-Med Rescue 24, Expedite Aviation, Radio Kosmos for air ambulance service during the festive season to ensure quick response.

The Roads Contractor Company’s Turnaround Plan, which was adopted to recuperate the business is bearing positive financial results. From the financial performance’s perspective, the unaudited financial statements of the 2010/11 financial year reflected that the company recorded a net profit of N$7.8m. Among major projects that the company completed include the first 70km of the Tsumeb-Katwitwi Road Construction Project and the railway embankment construction of the Aus-Luderitz Project in July this year.

The Roads Authority was confronted with a big challenge due to heavy floods that destroyed road infrastructure, especially in the northern parts of the country. As a result of the damaged roads, essential services and supplies such as those offered at health centres, schools, police stations and shops, were disrupted and inaccessible to many people in those regions. The total estimated costs have been estimated at over N$658m. At the moment, efforts are being made to ensure that the most critical roads are repaired.

PF: You seem to be enjoying your time and have learnt a lot at the Ministry of Works and Transport in a short time. Would you want to remain with the Ministry if Swapo won the elections in 2014?

EN: Yes you are right, I am enjoying my time in the Ministry and I am learning a lot every day. It is an environment that keeps one involved more and more. I would say the fields of works and transport are much more interesting than I initially thought. When you think of how infrastructure in general and specifically transportation infrastructure improves people’s lives at both economic and social levels, you would begin to realise the responsibility you have and that you have to meet the expectations of the people. That makes me work hard to contribute to the better livelihoods of the people.

Onto your last part of the question, it is our expectation that Swapo continues to win the elections. As of today, I am happy to be part of the Ministry of Works and Transport and I have set my targets for the next couple of years ahead and I believe that they are achievable. At this moment, I would not say would want to remain here if Swapo won the elections in 2014 as that depends on the appointing authority. I must indicate to you, however, that the appointing authority is the President and one cannot beg to be appointed as Minister. The incoming president would definitely have to appoint their executives in the manner that he/she feels the team would produce the best results for national building.

PF: Thank you sir for granting us the opportunity to interview you.

Curriculum Vitae



Surname : Nghimtina
Name : Erkki
Date of Birth : 16 September 1948


University of Namibia
National Diploma (1995) : Public Administration

Knightsbridge University, Denmark
Hons (1993) : Bachelor of Business Administration

Rostock, East Germany
Diploma (1981-82) : Political Science

Courses Attended

Radio Communication Course
Berlin, East Germany (1986)

Course in Electronic Warfare
Moscow, USSR (1985

Communication Course
Military Academy, USSR (1974-75)


Employer Post Held From To
Ministry of Works and Transport Minister 2010 Present
Ministry of Mines and Energy Minister 2005 2010
Ministry of Defence Minister 1997 2005
Ministry of Defence Deputy Minister 1995 1997
Namibia Defence Force Assistant Director of Communications 1990 1995
PLAN Eastern Front, Zambia Chief of Communications 1977 1979
PLAN Oshatotwa, Zambia Instructor 1976 1977
Consolidated Diamond Mines Clerk 1972 1973
Oshakati Wholesale Clerk 1970 1972

Member of Committees:

• Cabinet Committee on State-Owned Enterprises
• Cabinet Committee on Lands and Social Issues