TransNamib turnaround in shambles

02 April 2015 Author  

front pieter 02 aprilTuesday this week marked the end of the 180 days management and the board of directors at TransNamib gave themselves to implement their turnaround strategy. The strategy now appears to have come apart at the seams as it is riddled with controversy. The railway parastatal has tried to paint a rosy picture of its attempts to salvage the company from bankruptcy.


However, cracks seem to have surfaced in the facade and the board has gone mum on what progress it has made so far.

TransNamib launched the 180-day turnaround strategy in September 2014 and set the acquisition of 11 additional working locomotives by the end of March 2015 as one of its key objectives.

Well-placed sources at TransNamib said the first two 34 -class locomotives that arrived in the country in February this year on lease broke down and could not function.

On its first official test trip, locomotive number 1001 failed about 10 km outside Arandis en route to Kranzberg.

Sources later confirmed that the locomotive developed a “bearing knock” during the test journey.

The Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) team contracted by TransNamib later issued an instruction to stop operation of the other 34-class locomotive, no.1002.

The two locomotives (1001, 1002) will remain out of operation until such time that the company has repaired them and fitted new crankshafts and bearings.

Currently no clear timelines exist as to when TransNamib might complete the repairs, but the parastatal received another three 34-class locomotives.

Management decided to send these locomotives to Walvis Bay to clear the backlog of over 15,000 tons of the fuel, copper, coal, wheat and containers waiting there.

“The three locomotives failed when they were about to depart from Windhoek to Walvis Bay in the Windhoek marshalling yard,” the source said.

The Windhoek Observer is in possession of correspondence between members of the TransNamib board from the beginning of March 2015.

The correspondence reveals deep divisions within the board on the acquisition of any more locomotives from Transnet Engineering.

Board member Sacky Kadhila wrote to the board strongly disagreeing with a submission made by management to lease an additional ten 34-class locomotives from Transnet Engineering.

Kadhila highlighted that the company had not followed a transparent process to identify Transnet Engineering as a supplier, because it never called for tenders or expressions of interest before it awarded the job.

He further expressed concern that at that point Transnet Engineering had not delivered on the original agreement and that the first two 34-class locomotives it sent for testing did not work properly.

“If our engineers are unable to certify their sustainability why do we go out and get ten more of the same?” he questioned.

Kadhila also queried the lease agreement tabled to the board, and noted that those who drafted it used incorrect terms to describe the contract, and they omitted vital aspects such as lease duration and terms.

“There is nothing in the agreement as to how the rental will be paid. I expected a projection of income and how that will be ring-fenced to ensure we meet rental obligations.

“For the above reasons, I suggest management pull up their socks urgently and put out a proper expression of interest and then make proper submission for approval by the board,” he said.

However, board chairperson Pieter Oosthuizen did not agree with Kadhila and stated that TransNamib did not have the luxury of time to put out an expression of interest.

He said the procurement policy allowed for selective tendering and proposed that management submit two or more proposals to the tendering committee.

“Let the tender committee advise urgently on this, because we will have the locos here within days if Transnet has locos available or somebody else. Let’s get them here and not delay the process, let’s wrap this up tomorrow,” Oosthuizen wrote.

In response to Oosthuizen’s mail, Johana Shikukutu sided with Kadhila and emphasised that the board should not go ahead with the deployment of another ten 34-class locomotives from Transnet Engineering.

“It is very important to establish from the technical departments if these locos are compatible with our environment and condition of our rail network.

“My suggestion is for the board to be provided with the test results first of the two 34-class locos before we deploy more locos of the same model, it will be detrimental to TransNamib and the board if we fall into the same situation as the Chinese locos,” Shikukutu wrote.

Contacted for comment, TransNamib said it is planning a media conference soon to give the public a complete picture of the status of the turnaround 180 day Plan.

“We were overtaken by national events and considering the arrangement of new political office-bearers responsible for TransNamib, the board and management wish to engage the ministers bringing them up to speed with TransNamib, where it comes from, where it is today and our plans moving this business from great to even greater. It is therefore against this imperative that our envisaged press conference will be announced in due course,” TransNamib said
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The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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