“We have done all that we could”-Smith

Steve Nashama

TransNamib Chief Executive Officer, Johny Smith yesterday confirmed that he rejected an offer to extend his stay at the troubled parastatal and that he is pursuing other ventures.

Smith, who tendered his resignation earlier this year and is expected to leave the company at the end of this month said in an interview that the old and deteriorating state of TransNamib railway infrastructure hampers operations, resulting in bottlenecks, and has the potential to cause derailments, which can lead to a loss of life, environmental harm and damage to expensive equipment at any given time.

“Some of our locomotives are over 50 years old, while the lifespan of a locomotive is 25 years. We have done as much as we could and pushed as much as possible with the current rolling stock but in order to reach our plan of becoming a profitable company, we need a rolling stock that is reliable and safe.Hence, the acquisition of rolling stock needs to be urgent,” Smith stressed.

Smith says his resignation will not have an impact on the performance of the company, although its old and deteriorating infrastructure as well as the outdated rolling stock have heavily impacted the transformation of TransNamib.

TransNamib Board Chairperson Theo Mberirua also confirmed that the board indeed offered Smith another five-year extension offer. Smith has served as CEO of the transport parastatal since February 2018. Smith told this publication that the company has always been transparent in terms of the challenges that it faces many times and that it has not received a budget allocation.

“Given our constraints in resources, we will continue to advocate for the investment into rail and rail operations. Rail has a critical role to play in positioning Namibia as a key logistics hub but this will require further development and investment, which TransNamib will continue to campaign for,” he said. Smith added that the poor condition of the track has necessitated that TransNamib implements a self-imposed and self-regulatory mandatory speed restriction on some sections of the network to mitigate derailments and accidents.

The national railway line network has over the years depreciated enormously resulting in unacceptable speed restrictions.

Smith further indicated that upon his resignation, the board will appoint an interim CEO while the starting of the recruitment process and the operations of the business will continue.

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