TransNamib struggling to deal with old, unreliable railway lines

20 Jan 2015 13:30pm
WINDHOEK, 20 JAN (NAMPA) – TransNamib is unable to use some of its railway lines for heavy goods transport because the tracks are old and unbalanced.
The railway transport parastatal’s acting Chief Executive Officer, Hippy Tjivikua told Nampa recently that parts of the Windhoek-Gobabis railway line, and the railway line between Otavi and Grootfotein do not have proper balance due to the poor state of the steel sleepers in use.
“We are now moving away from steel sleepers towards concrete sleepers that make the railway line much more stable and create the proper balance,” he said.
Tjivikua said according to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) railway line standards, the company is required to have railway lines that can accommodate up to 18.5 tonnes per axle.
“However, most of our railway line sections can only accommodate 16.5 tonnes per axle or 13.5 per axle, which is a serious challenge for us,” he said.
The acting TransNamib boss explained that in the past, the railway lines were built with 22 kilogramme per metre railway steel rail, but the parastatal has now decided to move to 48 kg/m railway steel rail, which will stabilise the railway line and require much less maintenance.
Tjivikua said some of the latest railway lines in the country have already been constructed on the 48kg/m railway steel rail, adding that the construction and rehabilitation of the Aus-Luderitz railway line was completed and is expected to be handed over to TransNamib soon.
The railway line was constructed by Chinese-owned JER Construction company, at a cost of N.dollars 62 million.
Tjivikua said other projects that are in the pipeline include the extension of the Ondangwa-Oshakati railway line that will provide fast transportation of cargo to the northern regions.
The Tsumeb-Ondangwa railway line, which is operational, has been extended to Oshikango and the volume of cargo has been increasing.
Tjivikua noted that the parastatal has been underperforming in past years due to factors such as the ageing of locomotives, old vehicles and the unstable railway lines.
“We have to adopt the turnaround plan to bring TransNamib back to profitability and productivity,” he said.
TransNamib adopted a 180-day turnaround plan in September 2014 to bring the company back to profitability and efficiency.
The turnaround plan, which will be implemented in three phases over a period of three years, will cost the government over N.dollars 400 million.