Mmegi Online :: Botswana Railways next in privatisation drive
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Last Updated
Tuesday 20 November 2018, 13:46 pm.
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Botswana Railways next in privatisation drive

The Minister of Transport and Communications, Kitso Mokaila has made known plans to privatise Botswana Railways (BR), a move he says will ease the financial burden of running the parastatal from government coffers.
By Pauline Dikuelo Tue 14 Mar 2017, 15:48 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Botswana Railways next in privatisation drive








Addressing the media recently, Mokaila emphasised the importance of privatising the parastatals noting that government has tried its best to keep them afloat and it was now time to give private investors a chance.

“It is important to privatise these parastatals and give investors an opportunity to come up with strategies that would make them self-sustainable thus creating jobs in return.

Government needs to privatise to ensure that the economy grows,” he said. According to Mokaila, they are working on a strategy that can turn around BR, and make it contribute to the country’s economy.

Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited was the first parastatal in the history of Botswana to be privatised last year when 49% of the entity was sold to workers and citizens.

Next on the privatisation agenda are Air Botswana and the National Development Bank, which are already being turned around with a view to commercialise operations before private investors are invited to buy shares.

Morupule B Power Station is another national asset that is being offloaded to private investors.

Although no details were availed on the intended privatisation of BR, it is expected that an unbundling exercise would be carried out first to ring-fence the parastatal’s key national strategic assets as was done with BoFiNet.

 Among some of BR’s key assets include land and subsidiaries such as BR Properties and Sea Rail Botswana. On the recently departed chief executive officer (CEO), Mokaila said an agreement has been reached to let go of Dominic Ntwaagae, as the intention is to take BR in a

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different direction.

The CEO has served five years in two different contracts, first in a three-year contract, which was extended to two years, which is supposed to end in March.

Last month, the Minister dissolved BR’s board of directors and appointed a new one, which still has two positions to be filled as Mokaila said he could not find suitable candidates.

The appointed board members are still waiting on Cabinet’s approval. The BR board of directors is made up of six members including the CEO as an ex-officio member.

BR has often been in the headlines for wrong reasons following the purchase of passenger coaches and the hiccups that accompanied the re-introduction of the passenger train last year.

The train has experienced technical problems ranging from breakdowns, and recently the reported railway line damage caused by heavy rains. 

The affected railway line sections were around Ramotswa station in Taung, Sunnyside farm, a few kilometres from Lobatse station.

Mokaila said the repairs to the railway line are complete and the line was opened for heavy and slow moving freight traffic last week.  He said the total cost of repairs is estimated at P6 million.

“So far about 20 freight traffic with a total tonnage of 26,315 tonnes have been run since Last Monday to stabilise the track.  BR will be ready to bring the passenger train back on track soon,” he said.

In addition Mokaila said the recovery of the rolling stock, locomotive and wagons has started and work is expected to be complete this week.

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