Last throw of the dice

TransNamib places N$40m worth of properties on auction
With little room to manoeuvre when it comes to soliciting funding and most financial institutions turning their backs on the country's once-treasured national asset, TransNamib has decided to auction a portion of its asset base.
Augetto Graig
TransNamib bosses and employees will be on tenterhooks as they await to see whether the company’s decision to place a portion of its vast property base under the hammer today will pay off.

The public auction will see TransNamib dispose of its assets by auctioning some properties, including offices, plots, flats, and a farm.

The company has placed property valued at N$40 million on the market in a bid to turn around its worrying financial status.

Critics, however, say that even if everything goes smoothly, the auction proceeds will not be enough to drastically change the rail operator's financial circumstances.

TransNamib's current losses, according to official information received, stand in the region of N$10 million each month.

The various properties up for auction are located in Windhoek, Okahandja, Seeis, Otavi, Karibib, Omaruru, Otjiwarongo, Maltahöhe and Keetmanshoop.

The cash-strapped railway parastatal finds itself in a financial cul-de-sac, which has forced the company to take the unenviable decision to sell its properties to raise money for operations.

The move was lauded by supporters as a strategy to deal with the country’s prevailing railway crisis.

Assets on auction

In Windhoek, a 2 628m² parking lot near the Windhoek railway station is being offered for N$6.57 million, together with a workshop and offices on Hosea Kutako Drive for N$5.23 million. Also on offer is plot 3577 with a section of railway on it, near the open land next to the Wernhil shopping centre in the city centre.

By yesterday morning, plot A-237 was also still up for auction, valued at N$7.25 million for the office centre. By yesterday afternoon, it was no longer available.

Farm Seeis 134, which includes the Seeis railway station, is for sale and was valued at N$870 000.

Three plots are for sale in Okahandja, including plot 483, measuring 5 548m² and valued at N$830 000; plot 514 sized at 2 133 m², which is worth about N$745 000; and plot 399, which is valued at N$324 000 for the open land measuring 1 796m².

In Otavi, TransNamib's plot 439, measuring 2 770m², is expected to bring a return of around N$500 000; plot 438 is valued at N$270 000 for the 5 370m² piece of land; and another plot, measuring 18 584m², is valued at N$800 000.

Hope for cash

Four erven are being auctioned in Karibib, the largest erf, 198, covering 159 985 m² and valued at N$3 199 700.

Erf 189 is 23 296 m² in size and valued at N$350 000, while erf 202 of 7 794 m² exists along the railway line that runs through the town. Its value is estimated at N$80 000. Plot 151 in Karibib, about 40 000m² in size, is valued at N$560 000.

In Omaruru, there are eight plots for sale, valued in total at more than N$2.89 million, with plot 322 consisting of 17 496 m² open land valued at N$875 000.

Three plots of land are being sold in Otjiwarongo, of which the largest industrial erven covers 114 162 m², and is valued at almost N$6.28 million.

In Maltahöhe, TransNamib is selling lot 8 of 12,904 m² and they expect about N$795,000 in return for the property. It includes a restaurant, shop, storage rooms, and ablution facilities.

TransNamib is offering plot 114 in Keetmanshoop, which is used as a church and school. The 5 807m² property is expected to bring in almost N$2.7 million.

The offices and flats on plot 109, comprising 6 941 m², are estimated to fetch more than N$2.7 million for the state enterprise, which is also auctioning off the smaller plot 115 in the town.

Nationwide strike

Amid all the troubles, TransNamib is also still caught in the grip of a nationwide strike.

Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (NATAU) workers laid down tools on 17 August, after negotiations over salary increases stalled.

The union met with TransNamib's management yesterday.

According to TransNamib spokesperson Abigail Raubenheimer, negotiations were still ongoing yesterday afternoon shortly before five.

Natau's acting general secretary, Narina Pollmann, said it was still too early to comment.

"All I can say is that we are making progress," she said.

Meanwhile, TransNamib has been accused of failing to transform into a market-responsive company while maintaining a strong technical capacity by its former general manager, Mike Kavekotora.

It is Kavekotora’s view that those who contributed to the destruction of TransNamib have not been taken to task.

He also blamed government for allowing "the railway infrastructure to dilapidate to alarming levels as well as grossly undercapitalising it since independence, both in terms of rolling stock and railway infrastructure".

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Namibian Sun 2022-12-04

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