TransNamib defends D&M rail partnership

Obrein Simasiku

TransNamib is defending its long-standing business relationship with D&M Rail Construction, which has been scooping lucrative rail tenders worth hundreds of millions of dollars, while TransNamib is believed to have the capacity to do the job.

The rail paratastal’s Chief Executive Officer Johny Smith, said the partnership is a beneficial one for both entities.

“Since I took over in 2018 we started working together on some of the projects for the benefit of TransNamib and rail. If anyone believes there is no benefit in this partnership, let’s have the facts and information, then we will ensure that its investigated. In terms of discussions and implementations, we have done the wash-away projects between 2020/21 which were very successful. This added much value to the movement of manganese between Ariamsvlei and the port of Luderitz,” he briefly explained yesterday while responding to media queries.

TransNamib and D&M together own a 51% and 49% shareholding in a joint venture company, Namibia Rail Construction, with the objective to build local capacity for the maintenance, rehabilitation and construction of railway infrastructure. This is a 10-year partnership.

However, D&M is seen as double dipping because it still enjoys government contractual tenders to fix and rehabilitate national railway lines. On some projects the government spends roughly N$200 million per annum in payment to D&M for the rehabilitation, according to media reports.

Smith however said D&M has or engages in contracts with the Works Ministry specifically the rehabilitation of Tsumeb-Kranzberg rail, as the ministry is the one that owns the railway line, while TransNamib is just the user.

“So that is where the distinction is.” Another reason he advanced is that TransNamib does not have adequate experienced engineers who can assist in undertaking its own work, hence the need to enter into a partnership.

EY audit

Meanwhile the board chairperson Lionel Mathews refused to be drawn into discussions of the Ernest and Young auditors report, which was leaked and unearthed worrisome issues such as the payment of thousands of dollars in bonuses to executives while there is no performance system in place. Other issues included irregularities in the procurement system and flawed control of lease agreements of TransNamib’s properties. The report recommended disciplinary action against those named in the report.

“We have not received the audit report yet, so we are not privy to the information hence not at liberty to discuss anything until such a time, we have studied the document. For now, we are still waiting and still remains as rumours, because once we have the report, we shall act accordingly,” he said.

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