By Desie Heita
Total Namibia is everything contrary to findings of a survey on fuel service stations around the country. Total’s stance on health and safety issues, for instance, is clear: “It is not something we compromise on,” said managing director, Fanuel Tjivau.
“Imagine [the disastrous effect] if we are to have a fire at a petrol service station in a residential area. On our side, we do train the dealers on safety issues. [The training] is sort of a licence to operate,” said Tjivau.
The survey by the Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRI), that looked into the living and working conditions of workers in the petrol service station industry, found that several owners of service stations were unaware of oil companies’ health and safety policies and thus did not have appropriate policies or a health and safety committee at their establishments. The survey also found that service station owners and their employees, live on a pittance of dealer margin, 43 cents per litre, with the oil companies and the state-owned funds gobbling up the rest of the money generated. Oil companies in particular are said to be gobbling up the lion’s share of the revenue through high franchise fees and rental payments.
Tjivau said Total Namibia is perhaps the only oil company that does not charge franchise fees for its branded convenience shops.
“It is part of empowering our people,” said Tjivau. The company does, however, charge rental fees, in cases where the property belongs to Total, which are not many cases. Nevertheless, even then the rental fees ‘are market-related’.”
As of the transformation in the industry – Tjivau is the only Namibian managing director of an oil company – he said it should be understood that the industry is a highly specialised one, with health and safety being the key issues.
“We must understand the risk that comes with the petroleum industry. Then there is the price sensitivity, which in itself makes the industry very specialised,” said Tjivau.
For Total Namibia developing skill is a commitment, with the current workforce being fully Namibian.
“The idea is to try and plough back into our people. We currently have some young people who just joined our company, and we are committed to this approach, to have Namibians who are skilled and able to manage Total Namibia,” said Tjivau.
A number cruncher by profession, with a master’s degree from Stellenbosch, Tjivau has been in the petroleum industry since joining BP in 1997. Total Namibia poached him from BP.