Staff Writer

The transportation of manganese has provided a boost for TransNamib, with the company now transporting 15,000 tons per month.

Manganese is mainly used in the steel industry as an alloy, playing a significant role in making steel from iron, also used in dry cell batteries and as a black-brown pigment in paint, with its main export market being China.

“The route travelled has become a major revenue source for TransNamib in terms of moving manganese for our customers and the executives needed to see first-hand the operations and challenges on the route,” TransNamib Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Johny Smith said, while taking his recently appointed executive team on a four-day strategic workshop where they visit Mariental, Aus and Keetmanshoop stations’, with the aim of formulating a way forward to continue the implementation of the Integrated Strategic Business Plan (ISBP) approved by Cabinet in December 2018, which aims to turn TransNamib into a profitable company.

He said transported volumes by the rail company are currently being upscaled to 30,000 tons per month, a development which has seen the company employing about 150 people in the South last year to support the growth in moving the Manganese from Ariamsvlei up to Lüderitz.

The TransNamib CEO, however, said the company’s revenues have taken a 50 percent knock as a result of COVID19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on our revenue streams. In the five weeks of lockdown we lost 50 percent of our revenue and we need to find innovative ways to close this gap. The Desert Express has been significantly impacted with the complete standstill of its operations. We still have to pay staff and operational costs, and with COVID-19’s devastating effect on the international tourism market, I do not foresee our income stream increasing in the next few months,” Smith said.

TransNamib requires N$2.5 billion over the next five years to fund its new business plan which has already been approved by Cabinet and will leverage its assets, estimated to be worth N$4.5 billion, to secure funding from financial institutions.