The financial woes experienced state owned enterprise TransNamib are soon to be a thing of the past thanks to a Government cash injection of N$340 million availed to allow the company to acquire the latest locomotives.
Both the Minister of Works and Transport speaking through Ministry’s Public Relations Office and Acting Chief Executive of TransNamib Hipi Tjivikua confirmed that efforts are being made to rescicitate operations of the company that is key to fostering the dream of making Namibia transport hub as enshrined in the National Development four document.
While emphasising that the Government is making a delicate decision not to overshadow other equally pricing issues including drought Naruseb confirmed to Prime Focus that the railway of the country is not in good shape and needs urgent attention.
Government is also looking into the possibility of injecting more fans to acquire rolling stock and also make sure the current railway which is 50% malfunctioned is rescicitate in a bid to drive the company’s performance.
“The major challenge is insufficient funding because railway construction requires a huge sums of money which the government may not be in position to fund alone, especially in the face of other competing demands such as poverty reduction, health, education etc. Railway construction cost an average of N$20 million a kilometre.” Adding that, “There is about 1400 kilometres of the railway network that still needs rehabilitation and upgrading but, currently the Ministry of Works and Transport is busy carrying out railway upgrading projects between Walvis Bay and Tsumeb, Aus and Lüderitz and between Seeheim and Buchholzbrunn.
Naruseb also added that the Purpose of upgrading the railway is to ensure that the Namibian railway network meets SADC standards of a minimum of 18.5 tons/ axale and minimum speed of 100km/hr.
“TransNamib is losing a lot of money to road transport because of their old and unreliable locomotives and wagons. As already stated above 50% of the railway network requires heavy repairs hence is also characterised by speed restrictions. The combination of poor infrastructure and old equipment results in Trans Namib by purchasing new locomotives and wagons for them and this together with the railway upgrading projects that are being done will result in TransNamib competing favourably with road transport and regaining its market share,” he says.
Although !Naruseb could not give more information on when the country will expect the railway system to be fully improved he added that the task of improving the quality of rail will not come easy.
“TransNamib is losing a lot of money to road transport because of their old and unreliable locomotives and wagons. As already stated above 50% of the railway network requires heavy repairs hence is also characterised by speed restrictions. The combination of poor infrastructure and old equipment results in TransNamib taking too long to deliver goods,” he explains.
The Government is currently recapitalising TransNamib by purchasing new locomotives and wagons for them and this together with the railway upgrading projects that are being done will result in TransNamib competing favourably with road transport and regaining its market share.
Tjivikua says that, “I cannot talk on behalf of the railway infrastructure in Namibia because the rail infrastructure is an asset of the state government although we are the operator, what we got directly was money for capital expenditure.”
However, Tjivikua admits that TransNamib supports government initiatives and also supports initiatives that are in line with the SWAPO party manifesto.
“We support the Harambee Prosperity Plan and further support and endorse what the government is doing for our country, however the budget that has been set out for railway infrastructure is still far from the desired target that we want,” he says.
Although TransNamib aims to improve the railway, he reveals that, “We want quite a lot of money in order to transform the rail transport but I can only tell you that we transport only 6% of the cargo in terms of the entire percent which is very low, but what we want is to follow our neighbouring countries like South Africa. They have a Market demand strategy were they say that 70% of cargo should be transported through railway and that is what we want to do as well but the money is not sufficient.”