By William J. Mbangula
If there is anyone in Namibia who has heeded the call by the national leaders for self-sacrifice, demonstration of a high level of commitment and dedication to the construction of the Tsumeb-Oshikango railway line, one such person could be a young businessman from Onamutanda village in Endola constituency.
Like many Namibians of goodwill, he sees the immense potential not only for Namibia but also for the SADC region as a whole. He sees the railway network as something that will open up new avenues and opportunities for trade and commerce as well as to facilitate the safe movement of people.
His sense of responsibility and patriotism has been demonstrated by his involvement in the construction of such an important transport network by making donations in kind.
Besides making such donations, he made one of the most significant pledges that have been made on the project. Many people could not believe their ears when he pledged last year that he will donate a cow every time President Hifikepunye Pohamba or Swapo President and Father of the Nation Dr Sam Nujoma work on the railway line.
After hearing this pledge, many people wanted to know who this young man is who has committed himself to the value of the railway.
Like many people who have succeeded in life, Lucas Nghuuhange started his business activities in the most difficult circumstances almost 15 years ago.
But looking back on those years, he is proud that today he is one of the millionaires in the country, having worked hard to achieve his dream.
Last year at the opening of the Nehale LyaMpingana station at Ondangwa, he made the first cow donation. Before that he would only donate beverages and food to the workers from Omuthiya to Ondangwa.
With the commencement of the second phase of the railway line to Oshikango, Nghuuhange made the cow pledge donation for the first time last year at Ondangwa and he kept his word this year on June 15.
He said: “As long as there is a national call to work on the railway where President Pohamba or the Founding President Nujoma will work, I will continue donating a cow until the rail line reaches Oshikango. So far I have done it thrice but I will never give up until such an important transport network is completed. I know with the railway station at Oshikango I can receive my goods from anywhere in the world, whether from China, Brazil or Europe.
“When I look at the railway I consider it as something which can make me to provide food and work to my people. The Namibian economy in particular and SADC in general is too huge and valuable to be neglected. It needs the services of a vibrant railway line.”
For Nghuuhange, the railway line is very crucial given the fact that he receives 18 cargo trucks from Windhoek, Walvis Bay and South Africa every week but still this is not enough to answer his need of doing effective business.
Nghuuhange, a general dealer who imports and exports all sort of products, is a self-made millionaire, having achieved fame through hard work and dedication.
Being slender and young, some people who do not know him sometimes mistake him for a cleaner or driver at his own business. Many times job seekers and traders who want to do business with him unwittingly bypass him looking for the boss of the company, only to be told that the person they have left outside or ignored in front of them is the owner of the business.
Nghuuhange noted jokingly: “Some people expect me to be a huge man with a big tummy. It is little wonder that everyone who does not know me could look at me with ignorance only to start appreciating and respecting me when they hear and see what I am able to do.”
A dropout who only schooled at Onekwaya Primary School and Makalani Primary School at Grootfontein, Nghuuhange deserted a police training college in 1991 at the age of 21 to join the unknown world of unemployment and economic suffering, hoping to find a good opportunity to build up his tattered life.
He recalls that one day, on his adventurous mission to find employment in the South of the country, he took a lift from a South Africa truck driver from Mariental to Noordoewer. Some 30 km out of Mariental the truck driver stopped and started demanding that everyone in the truck should pay. He did not have sufficient money with him. Said Nghuuhange: “This man was cruel, he snatched my watch, slapped me in the face and left me stranded. I was forced to walk back to Mariental some 30 km away. There (Mariental) I found a Good Samaritan businessman from Oshikango who gave me a lift through Noordoewer and to Oranjemund. Some of these experiences really taught me how life can be tough and how one has to work very hard to preserve your dignity.”
Getting the permit to enter Oranjemund, one of the security zones in Namibia, was an uphill battle but through the assistance of some of his relatives he managed even to secure a job at the diamond-rich town.
While working there, he would supplement his monthly income by selling beverages at a place he called Centre Bottle Store. It was even difficult to get a trading licence from authorities at Keetmanshoop, so much so that he was forced to buy his supplies from Punyu Group of companies at Ondangwa and this earned him the nickname Punyu because many people thought he was a front man for the Ondangwa-based businessman, Jairus Shikale.
Towards the end of 2002, he decided to resign from formal employment at Oranjemund in order to continue doing business in Windhoek, where he became very active at Okuryangava, Greenwell Matongo and Khomasdal before leaving for good to concentrate on the thriving economic activities at Oshikango.
Owner of a bonded warehouse, hardware houses, beverage shops and rented buildings here, Nghuuhange has provided employment for 37 people at his various business centres in Oshakati, Oshikango, Ongwediva and his farming plot at Chumchums in Oshikoto Region. Having been exposed to many opportunities after visiting some of the SADC countries such as Angola, Zambia, South Africa, Botswana and the DRC, he has realised the potential of inter trade between neighbouring states as a very important tool for sustainable economic development.
Apart from the SADC countries, he has also visited some of the most industrialised nations such as Belgium, China and Japan where he was clearly motivated to do more for his country.
On this basis, the young businessman is rendering unprecedented support and assistance for the construction of the railway line to Oshikango to connect the SADC countries together. For him as an exporter and importer of essential commodities to some of these countries, an effective and vibrant railway line is something he cannot do without.
A father of five children, Nghuuhange claims to be a born entrepreneur because at an early stage, he already started repairing radios, TVs, and other electronic equipments for a fee. He said this was a sign that in future he would become the trader that he is today.
Asked to comment on the participation in the railway work by fellow business people in and around Oshikango, Nghuuhange condemned some of them as being selfish and unrealistic. He said most of them are not prepared to meet the government halfway but only want to demand incentives and preferential treatment from the government.
He said: “If there were meetings called by financial institutions such as the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) where they feel loans could be advanced to them, then you will see them scrambling for seats. Even at gatherings where tenders are discussed you will see them falling over one another but they are not prepared to sacrifice a bit for their own benefit by helping to put up a facility which will alleviate their transport needs.”
His parting words to the Namibian people are: “Let us work hard to develop our country in order to ensure economic and social stability. I have seen people who have developed themselves in other countries, which we can also do in Namibia. Let those who can contribute to the railway line and other development activities in the country just do that, whether in kind or in cash.”