TransNamib Shaken by Natau

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By Staff Reporter WINDHOEK TransNamib appears to be seeking a compromise with the Namibia Transport and Allied Union (Natau) after a scathing attack launched by the union against the board and management of the company in late December. At a press conference just before the Christmas break, addressed by Natau president Dawid Tjombe, Natau sharply criticised alleged mismanagement at the corporation. The union called for the dismissal of Chief Executive Officer John Shaetonhodi and the removal of the entire company board of directors. Natau further called for the appointment of a presidential commission of inquiry to look into the affairs of the corporation. Only days after the Natau press conference TransNamib, clearly shaken by the strong language of Natau, issued a statement indicating a willingness to address some of the union’s concerns. The statement released by chairperson Foibe Namene said the TransNamib Board of Directors recognises Natau as an important stakeholder and respects their right to raise issues of concern. The board did not however go as far as acceding to the union’s demand for a presidential commission of inquiry. The TransNamib board instead formed a committee made up of representatives from Natau, the TransNamib Board and the Ministry of Works Transport and Communication. Namene said the aim of the committee is to discuss the merits of the issues raised by Natau, and map out a way forward for the corporation. At this stage, it is not yet clear whether the move by TransNamib goes far enough to satisfy the increasingly impatient Natau. Yesterday, attempts to contact Natau officials to confirm whether they will participate in the TransNamib committee proved unsuccessful. The beleaguered parastatal has lurched from one crisis to another in recent years, and although the company claims to be profitable, many question the long-term future of TransNamib. At the press conference that stirred TransNamib into action, Tjombe said Natau was deeply worried about the inability of the board of directors to provide leadership to the company. He raised a host of problems at TransNamib that have been the subject of ongoing media reports, and have cast the corporation in a rather negative light. Tjombe questioned who appoints the general managers at the corporation, and why it appointed some senior managers known to be incompetent. He challenged the board to provide them with an example of even a single success story they had achieved since their appointment. He demanded the parastatal reveal how much money it has spent on a spate of court cases, mostly involving alleged un-procedural dismissal of employees. “We do not want labour cases anymore, we want to focus on the issue of transport,” he was quoted as saying at the time. Tjombe also complained about four locomotives purchased by TransNamib from China, which have apparently suffered constant breakdowns due to mechanical problems. “Their chronic mechanical problems have caused and keep causing the company huge financial losses, and none of the technicians and diesel fitters employed by TransNamib are equipped – whether through local training or in China – to service and maintain these locomotives.”

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