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Upbeat TransNamib Chief Executive describes turn-around success and tangible milestones at recent AGM

Upbeat TransNamib Chief Executive describes turn-around success and tangible milestones at recent AGM

Reiterating TransNamib’s strategic focus on bulk cargo, Chief Executive Johny Smith sketched a future scenario where the public haulier will have to double its cargo capacity.

From a current fleet of 43 locomotives, Smith said this will have to double to 86 in a mere two years to meet the target of moving 3.1 million metric tonnes of bulk cargo per year by 2023.

This target rests on the assumption that the parastatal will be able to convince more clients of the efficiency and cost-saving of rail for bulk cargo. Currently, TransNamib carries fuel, copper concentrate, coal, manganese and coal by what is known as a block train configuration. This entails two locomotives with at least 20 wagons resulting in the optimal relation between tonnage and cost. It also enables longer non-stop journeys as only one stop for refuelling is required.

Smith’s ambitious plans are part of the board-approved turn-around strategy for the beleaguered parastatal that has been run into the ground for lack of management oversight. For instance, the company’s previous Annual General Meeting in 2020 was the first such meeting held in six years despite clear statutory obligations to the contrary. This year’s Annual General Meeting on 30 March 2021 was only the second in eight years but the significance of a resumption of regular AGMs was not lost on the auspicious meeting.

Amongst others, the meeting and subsequent presentations were attended by the entire executive team, the full board chaired by Adv Sigrid Tjijorokisa, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Hon Leon Jooste and the Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, Hon Veikko Nekundi.

In terms of strategy and implementation, Smith stated further that they are focussing on station-to-station service and continuously and actively engaging both existing and prospective clients.

On the pace of implementation, Smith noted that TransNamib has in the past three years celebrated many milestones including a rebranding of the company’s corporate identity and signage. Other major advances relate to internal management controls, improved governance and accurate financial reporting. For the 2018/19 financial year, the company received an unqualified audit for the first time in a decade.

Smith pointed out that the growth in TransNamib’s revenue, freight volumes and property portfolio is tangible evidence that the company is indeed making progress.

The Managing Director of a key customer, Ohorongo Cement’s Wilhelm Schütte described the win-win synergy between his company and the public transporter. All Ohorongo’s cement product destined for Ondangwa is moved by rail and all coal from Walvis Bay to the cement factory at Otavi is also moved by rail.

He commended TransNamib for its increased service levels noting that the company was pro-active and result-oriented pointing out that TransNamib and Ohorongo’s partnership is primarily based on volume and bulk business.

Finally, from a practical consideration, Smith said every train that moves bulk cargo by rail replaces around 30 large trucks on the road, contributing to a noticeable decrease in heavy traffic, improving road safety as a result.

Discussing ongoing progress and future strategies of TransNamib at the company’s recent Annual General Meeting, are from the left, Veikko Nekundi, the Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, Johny Smith, the parastatal’s Chief Executive and Leon Jooste, the Minister of Public Enterprises.


About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and she believes education is the greatest equalizer. She received her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in June 2021. . She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.