Usakos wants speedy decision on TransNamib project

Cabinet is divided on the funding of the project of more than N$1 billion.

26 February 2019 | Economics

Close to 60% of the town’s youth are unemployed and we are hoping … a number of jobs will be created.” – Ivan Lombardt, CEO: Usakos town council

Isabel Bento – The management of the Usakos town council has appealed for a speedy Cabinet resolution regarding TransNamib’s N$1.1 billion locomotive renovation plant project planned for Usakos.

The government has plans to build a railway factory in Usakos, which is expected to renovate about 33 TransNamib locomotives.

However, Cabinet members are divided between accepting proposed funding of N$1.1 billion from Malaysian Rail Company SMH, for which a bank guarantee needs to be provided, or to source external funding worth N$ 1 billion to which a guarantee would be provided through TransNamib’s property portfolio.

In an exclusive interview with Nampa on Friday, Usakos chief executive officer, Ivan Lombardt, said the delay in reaching this important decision is costing the town developmental opportunities.

“Close to 60% of the town’s youth are unemployed and we are hoping that with this proposed project, a number of jobs will be created and employment made available in the process,” Lombardt said.

The CEO emphasised on how, unlike its neighbouring towns, Usakos has no mine and depends mainly on the railway and has a big railway history.

“Our town is further behind in infrastructure development and if this project is to kick off as soon as possible, things could change for the better and the project could give the town a facelift,” he said.

Slow development

In the same interview, Usakos mayor Akser Mwafangeyo stressed that one of the reasons infrastructure development is slow in the town was due to the fact that most of the land in Usakos belongs to TransNamib.

“We are hoping that with this agreement, things will change in terms of scenery and how people look at the TransNamib infrastructure. We see this initiative as something that will turn things around, not only by creating job opportunities but also improving living conditions as well as the housing situation,” Mwafangeyo said.

The mayor added that they equally believe that in return, TransNamib will generate revenue from the land they own there, which has been idle and underutilised.

According to the CEO, the project contract should have been completed and signed during this month already, while construction was to commence in April 2019.

“We do not have a problem with Cabinet trying to make a choice which is in the best interest of the country, however as a town, we need this as a matter of urgency and we can no longer take the delay,” Lombardt reiterated.

SMH Rail is Malaysia’s largest privately-owned rolling stock manufacturer and service provider, which was established in 2000 to undertake railway engineering projects.

The company currently has permanent presence in various overseas locations including India, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Thailand and Cambodia. - Nampa

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