Calls to Fire TransNamib Board

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek The Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (Natau) has called for the immediate withdrawal of the current board of TransNamib claiming that it has dismally failed to adequately honour its fiduciary responsibility towards the parastatal. Addressing a press conference yesterday in the capital, the president of Natau Dawid Tjombe said Natau is deeply worried about the inability of the board to provide leadership to the company. “It is clear from the reckless and irresponsible statements made by the Board Deputy Chairperson.” Tjombe said Natau would also like to know who appoints the general managers and also why TransNamib is known to have appointed some incompetent senior managers. The Natau president challenged the board to provide them with a single success story they have achieved since their inception. “It is very disappointing to us that the board is fully aware of TransNamib’s reckless trading, yet it is quiet as if all is well in the company.” Tjombe also demanded the parastatal reveals how much money the company has spent on ongoing court cases. “The CEO must come out and publicly tell us how much they have spent on defending these senseless court cases and what the real financial situation of TransNamib is.” Natau also questioned the deal which TransNamib entered with Barloworld. Natau describes the deal as ill-conceived and said they are convinced that the deal is the one responsible for the current bad situation at TransNamib as the goods shed’s outsourcing to Barloworld has resulted in the loss of customers for TransNamib. Tjombe claimed that the goods shed operates below commercial capacity. The Natau president also complained about the four locomotives that were purchased from China. He said the locomotives have worrying mechanical problems. “Their chronic mechanical problems have caused and keep causing the company huge financial losses and none of the technicians or diesel fitters employed by TransNamib are equipped – whether through local training or in China – to service and maintain these locomotives.” The union also demanded that a presidential commission of inquiry be instituted into the affairs of TransNamib. Although a presidential commission was set up already to investigate TransNamib, Tjombe said the last inquiry did not discover the root problem and in-depth investigations are needed. “The inquiry must really investigate the real problems and move away from the elitist style of investigation.” Tjombe also demanded that the NUNW be represented on the commission of inquiry. “Natau calls on the NUNW and the government to get involved in the deteriorating situation at TransNamib as soon as now.” He warned that failure by the NUNW and government to swiftly act would result in the northern railway project being jeopardized. “All efforts and energy into this project could amount to zero with the demise of TransNamib.” However, the Deputy Chairperson of TransNamib Board, Tarah Shaanika, refuted the allegations and said the board has acted on the problems facing the parastatal. He said the board facilitated the disciplinary action which was taken against one of the general managers, Jason Hamunyela. “The board through the recommendations from the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing fired Hamunyela and have instructed further investigations to take place to discover if the other employees who were implicated are guilty.” Shaanika further noted that the Board has instructed the company’s lawyers to concentrate on bringing the labour cases to an end and to consider out-of-court settlements. “We do not want labour cases anymore, we want to focus on the issue of transport.” He also refuted claims that the locomotives are not running and said the board was informed by management that all locomotives are in good order and that local engineers were sent to China to learn more about the locomotives. Shaanika noted that the employment policy allowed managers in the company to exploit loopholes and the policy has now been rectified. He claimed that since the new board took over, the parastatal has recorded some good profits. “The new board has witnessed a situation where the company stopped making losses and 2004 reported a profit of N$30 million.” He urged Natau leaders to address the board personally when faced with grievances and not to use the media.