Regional railway – Billions lost in potential revenue

By Southern Times Writer

WINDHOEK – Railway utilities in Southern Africa serve for South Africa are losing billions in potential revenue because of either obsolete railway networks which has dented confidence from transporters now opting for road transport or poor management of the parastatals.

In Namibia alone Trans Namib was recently reported to be in need of a bailout in excess of billions dollars to be able to turn around its operations. The state rail monopoly has been reeling with business loses with most potential clients opting for road transportation for efficiency and timely deliveries.

It is estimated that the Namibian railway operator loses 50 percent of potential business because of obsolete rail, old wagons and lack of trust from potential clients.

What is more ironic with the Namibian situation is that the country has a centrally located port that has potential to create a boom in business for TransNamib shipping goods to either neighbouring countries or within the country.

Alas this has not been the case as most of the transporters are engaging the road transport option which is costly and risky.

The country’s industrial body, Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry has not been without complains over the unavailability of rail for transporting goods in previous years.

In recent interviews with Namibian media TransNamib revealed that it cost about R20 million to finance railway rehabilitation of about a kilometre.

In one of his recent interviews with a Namibian business monthly publication former, Acting Chief Executive Hipi Tjivikua, revealed that Namibia has over 1,400 kilometres of rail which needs to be resuscitated to the level that will smoothen flow of cargo through railway.

He also gave an insight on how the challenges of cash flow have hamstrung a parastatal that many believe should be the cash cow for Government but instead relies on financial injections from treasury for sustenance.

It is, however, not doom and gloom for TransNamib in Namibia as the Minister of Public Enterprises Leon Jooste has been making frantic efforts to turn around the fortunes of the parastatal and also bring sanity to the perennial loss making entity.

The line minister set up a new board recently and the parastatal is on the hunt for a substantive CEO as part of the turnaround strategies.

In their quest for revival the Namibian railway parastatal recently acquired state of the art locomotives for a whooping R300 million.

July 2017
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