As TransNamib Probes Collision By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Two TransNamib employees – train driver Ben Tembo and his assistant Frans Claasen have been suspended as a precautionary measure, whilst investigations into the recent collision of two cargo trains near Okahandja are ongoing. Confirming this to New Era yesterday, the transport company’s train operations manager Rassie Esterhuyse said the two men were suspended so that they could recover from the shock they sustained from injuries in the train crash that took place last week Thursday. This official position is however contrary to conventional practice where one is sent on sick leave by a medical doctor and not suspended in order to recuperate. While Tembo is said to have sustained injuries to his rib cage, the assistant reportedly broke his finger in the accident. Both were admitted to the Okahandja State Hospital for medical examination and were released the following morning on Friday. “We believe that they are still in shock after the collision and they are both booked off sick while the investigation continues,” said Esterhuyse. “The suspension is not a penalty, but a precautionary measure while we are busy with the internal investigation,” he added. He clarified that one of the trains was not from the coastal town of Walvis Bay, but the incident occurred when the train from Otjiwarongo crashed into a stationary one from Windhoek near Waldau, situated 22 km from the town of Okahandja at around 02h00. The other two staff members on the stationary train are said to have escaped with no injury. Since the incident occurred, a prompt internal probe got underway the next day. A panel of four personnel from the company are now busy investigating the actual cause of the train collision. In light of this, the train operations manager stated that it is still premature for him to reveal any findings. At the same time, plans are also in place to take disciplinary action against any staff member held responsible for the recent accident. Although he could not ascertain the cost of damage at this point in time, Esterhuyse said that damaged parts of the two trains were recovered last week Saturday, while thorough investigations are being made on one of the black boxes of the damaged trains. “The black box is that part of the train in which one can determine the actual speed and acceleration of the train that collided with the other one. This is a senior level investigation right from the train driver that came from Windhoek to the one that was coming from Otjiwarongo,” he explained. Investigations are expected to be completed by Friday this week. This is the third train collision experienced by TransNamib so far. The first collision occurred six years ago at Holoog near the Fish River Canyon, while the second took place during the middle of last year near Wilhelmstal. Both were caused by human error.
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