TransNamib’s Chinese Locomotives Declared Unfit

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The planned locomotive plant for Chinese-assembled trains at Usakos by TransNamib has been put on hold after the locomotives were declared unfit to run on Namibian railways. The revelation came after a high level team of technical experts investigated recent accidents involving the Chinese-built locomotives. It was established that the locomotives are a danger to passengers and the company as a whole. Chinese engineers who were in the country for the purpose of training Namibians in this field for four years left the country last week. The four state-of-the-art locomotives arrived in the country in September 2004 and were purchased at a price of N$28 million from China South Locomotives and Rolling Stock Industry. Despite some observers just recently saying these imports and the Namibian “Cape gauge” (rail) are incompatible, the company (TransNamib) announced its intentions to buy 17 more locomotives at a cost of N$260 million. An additional two passenger trains might be bought for the northern railway line. Matty Hauuanga, head of operations at TransNamib, three weeks ago gave instructions that the four locomotives be withdrawn from operations. When the fleet of the imported locomotives from China were still new last year, they already presented functional problems. The then brand-new locomotives were grounded after a series of mechanical problems. New Era learnt that the new diesel locomotives that were shipped into the country last September had been out of action for several weeks. TransNamib confirmed that one of the four locomotives developed a problem with its engine and that as a precaution, the company decided to lay off the other three locomotives that are currently at the TransNamib shed in Windhoek, where they underwent further mechanical tests. It was suspected that the engine got damaged while on transit from the Chinese manufacturing company CSR Ziyang Locomotives Works to Namibia’s port harbour of Walvis Bay. New Era was previously informed that before the locomotives were shipped to Namibia, a team of experts travelled to the manufacturing plant in China on an inspection tour, where everything was found to be in perfect working order before the locomotives were finally brought to Namibia.

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