- Prime Minister Hage Geingob announced this morning that recent oil exploration off the Walvis Bay coast has confirmed that the country has oil reserves, although not in commercial volumes.
Nghimtina, TransNamib in crunch talks
A meeting slated for tomorrow between Works and Transport Minister Erkki Nghimtina, his permanent secretary Peter Mwatile and frustrated members of the TransNamib board could decide the company’s financial future.
TransNamib is disturbed by the fact that it has been struggling lately to get tenders to construct, upgrade and rehabilitate the national railway network, despite Section 13 of its founding Act stating that such works are reserved for it alone.
Recently, Nghimtina tabled a requisition in Cabinet, in which he lobbied for the provision of N$2 billion to TransNamib for the financial years 2012 to 2015.
He also requested that Government writes off N$275 million that the company owes for the fragile locomotives it has acquired from China in recent years.
TransNamib believes Nghimtina too must claim his fair share of the woes at the parastatal, because his ministry has violated the law by consistently awarding railway tenders to other companies – a transgression in terms of the TransNamib Act.
By law, TransNamib enjoys monopoly on all railway maintenance and construction works but the company has lately been losing out on such tenders to Chinese firms and new kid on the block D&M Rail Construction.
Co-owners and local businessmen John Walenga and James Hatuikulipi hold the majority shares in D&M.
Several former engineers of TransNamib also own shares in D&M, which in December 2011 got an N$150 million railway tender to repair the 400 kilometre stretch of railway line between Kranzberg and Tsumeb.
The board is set to meet Nghimtina and new Works and Transport Permanent Secretary Peter Mwatile tomorrow. High on the agenda are demands that Government should play by the rules.
The rule, in the eyes of the parastatal, is that all tenders to repair, rehabilitate or construct national railways must automatically fall under its mandate and that it should continue to be the case unless the existing Act is amended.
D&M was deemed too close to George Simataa, a notion that probably has its origin in the fact that both Walenga and Simataa where partners in Iroko Investment, a company that got the tender to undertake the collection of Cross Border Charges (CBCs) on behalf of the Road Fund Administration (RFA).
With Simataa now at Mercedes Street where he is new Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Labour and Welfare, there is renewed hope at TransNamib that railway tenders would be awarded to the company.
“We hope the new permanent secretary (Mwatile) will heed our call,” a TransNamib official said yesterday.
“What has been happening during Simataa’s time has no basis in law and Government could have easily been sued, but obviously we can’t bite the hand that feeds us.”
TransNamib struggles financially and the company hopes to revive its financial fortunes through getting all railway tenders.
“By law, the national railway is the property of Government. But the TransNamib Act clearly stipulates that the maintenance of such networks is the sole responsibility of the company.”
TransNamib has written several letters to Government requesting it to play by the rules as per the provisions of the Act, but such attempts have so far landed in deaf ears, seemingly.
Namibian Sun is informed that, contrary to TransNamib’s attempts, the Ministry of Works and Transport has written several letters to Attorney General Albert Kawana, urging him to help amend the TransNamib Act so that other entities are granted an opportunity to tender for railway maintenance contracts.
Officials at TransNamib are struggling to come to terms with why D&M, a greenhorn in the rail maintenance world, keep beating it to its own game.
“Honestly, what is it that D&M can do that TransNamib cannot?” the official wanted to know.