Walvis Bay – The government has bought six modern locomotives to the tune of N$300 million for TransNamib, the national railway carrier. Government is the sole shareholder in TransNamib.
The modern and fuel efficient locomotives, which are described as the best on the market, were acquired from General Electric, an American company based in Brazil.
The shipment arrived late Thursday afternoon at Walvis Bay and was offloaded on Friday morning at the port.
The locomotives will be adjusted according to TransNamib’s specifications and requirements and are expected to be operational within the next two weeks.
According to the acting chief executive officer of TransNamib, Mbahupu Hippy Tjivikua, who received the shipment on Friday, the locomotives will be deployed to transport sulphuric acid between Arandis and Tsumeb.
He explained that the procurement was set in motion two years ago so that the railway engines could arrive on time.
“This is the best procurement that we have ever done in the history of TransNamib and it is indeed a positive step in the right direction now that we are focusing on the upgrading of our rail and road network,” he said.
Apart from the six new locomotives, TransNamib owns 97 others of which only 52 are operational, with some more than 50 years old.
Tjivikua said buying new trains was a necessity, not only to replace the ageing and redundant ones in the fleet but also as a way to increase company revenue in order to become self-sustainable.
Tjivikua also indicated that TransNamib would need at least 80 new locomotives to replace the ageing ones. It is more costly to refurbish the old ones than to acquire new ones, Tjivikua explained.
“The challenge TransNamib now faces is the ageing rail infrastructure as we cannot have our new trains using old railway lines. However, we’ll do maintenance and repairs on the rails whilst we await their upgrade,” he said.