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Follow my example for three months and see the amazing results

Follow my example for three months and see the amazing results

By John Saunderson.

At the time when I joined the City of Windhoek as Head of Passenger Transport Regulation in 2007, the City already suffered from poor public transport infrastructure, bus services and budgets. Now, the public bus transport service is essentially a subsidized business and was viewed as a candidate for privatization.

For the first two years I was quickly assigned more and more additional responsibilities outside the scope of my employment contract by the division head. I had the best time of my life those two years, being young given a lot of responsibilities, living out my potential as a specialist economist (specializing in transport economics) – it was pure joy and total satisfaction!!

Now, the best part was I knew nothing about public service delivery and during those years and the years before that I never thought about the term or even ever read about it. I had one goal and one goal only and that was to create and sustain immediate tangible and real benefits in the lives of the citizens of Windhoek.

I rarely was absent from work, got up very early in the morning at like 4-5 and doing random bus inspections (before the time of the electronic ticketing machine technology). A lot of the time I was doing the job of the Head of Bus Operations (vacant for about 3 years until end 2009 or around there), inspecting bus stop shelters putting pressure on the advertising company to repair and replace shelters where there was none, and conducting feasibility analysis for the replacement of the bus fleet.

We succeeded in convincing the City leaders and the Ministry of Transport to make funding available to expand the bus service coverage in Windhoek. I physically did surveys all alone to determine true demand for public transport bus services during many of those hundreds of early morning sessions mentioned above. I mean the public transport division flourished during my time at the City for the approximately 4 years I spent there. You can ask many a bus driver to this day who I am!!

How did I consistently achieve my goals?

One, I approached everything from the angle that I say to myself, I don’t know anything. I need to understand what is wanted.

Two, I asked myself how am I going to achieve that goal?

Three, I never thought of a limited budget. I never let that constrict me. I worked with what I was given and making things work– that’s called being efficient in economics!!

The biggest truth I learned is that with all the intelligence and degrees and position, you still need to listen first, that is listening to what the people say, and very important, what the people need. I spent many nights at management council meetings (standing in for my senior) reporting on what has been done, and what is being developed and reporting on this at the next meeting with solutions developed and implemented.

I also learned not to make excuses but to take personal responsibility for achieving citizen satisfaction. Shortly since my departure and non-return the service collapsed so to say.

With this account, I am demonstrating is that we elect people into positions because they promise to deliver something which will make life better. We should have a spirit of being of service to our people. That attitude coupled with good knowledge (through reading or studying), and eagerness to understand what people need (and what truly are their wants) AND very important going to the people and being among them and experiencing what they face on a daily basis.

It is very important to construct plans within the means at our disposal and implement those plans then and only then we tick all the boxes or at least most of the boxes describing a flourishing, and in short a happy people in simple language!!!

The most important of ALL is that there should not be any desire of unlawful or illegal financial enrichment scheming in your character in carrying out your functions! To our leaders I say: “Just do this for three months and see the amazing results – the following and support you will generate!!”

I am law student nowadays, having completed B Com Law and pursuing an LLB Hons and a masters in Transport Economics presently. I am providing individual and business (law) consulting and advisory services quietly in my very small consulting firm, Amir Consulting Services CC trying to “make Namibia better one day at a time”. [email protected]


About The Author

John Saunderson

John A. Saunderson lives in Otjiwarongo and is the Principal Transport Economist at Amir Consulting Services, with expertise in transport systems including operations, policy, regulation, infrastructure, strategy and management. He has worked on many projects for the Namibian Government, parastatals, engineering consultants, private individuals and business consulting firms on transport infrastructure plans, policy, regulation, economic analysis and business plans. He is a transport economist by profession having worked for the Roads Authority, the City of Windhoek and the Ministry of Works and Transport. Mr Saunderson obtained his B.Com (Hons) degree in Transport Economics from the University of Stellenbosch and his undergraduate degree in Transport from Rand Afrikaans University. He has been providing consulting services since 2007.