BR weak in marketing-Parly Committee

Botswana Railways locomotive
Botswana Railways locomotive

The parliamentary committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises has found Botswana Railways (BR) chief executive officer Dominic Ntwaagae lacking in innovation to make the national transporter relevant to the economy.

The committee chaired by Samson Moyo Guma yesterday came hard on BR’s over reliance on government financial support and lack of strategic marketing initiatives to become a player in the freight market. 

“Government keeps pumping money into BR but you are not taking strategic marketing initiatives to compete with couriers for local clients,” remarked the legislator.

Guma challenged Ntwaagae to make Botswana Railways a more viable and sustainable entity that is relevant to the economy of the country.  “You have a lot to do with your marketing.”

The legislator told Ntwaagae that Botswana is between big economies such as Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which provide economic and viable sense when considering the construction railway lines.

The legislator was not amused by Ntwaagae’s lack of knowledge of the country’s import bill.

“How would you be profitable if you don’t know these things? Your marketing team should help you unpack these things to come up with strategies,” he said.

He also challenged Ntwaagae to analyse the country’s import bill and see how much BR could get from it. “Knowing what percentage of the country’s import the freight services contribute will help you know how much BR could make out of it, if it seizes the opportunity to transport those goods coming into the country.” 

His colleague and Member of Parliament for Gabane-Mmankgodi Pius Mokgware asked how BR could manage to formulate strong marketing initiatives when it fails to manage its accounts.

“If you cannot submit you accounts on time every year, can you be innovative enough to stay relevant to the economy? You are a key stakeholder in the freight market but you are not doing anything.

There is a lot of cargo moving between the south and north of this country, you failing to take advantage of it,” said Mokgware.

Mokgware further noted that, “Couriers are taking the business away from you while you could be the one doing it at reasonable prices. I tried to engage with you while still a commander at the Botswana Defence Force but you did not take the opportunity”.

Mokgware advised Ntwaagae to formulate an aggressive marketing strategy to increase its cliental base.

In response, Ntwaagae said he had noted the suggestions, adding that they have embarked on initiatives to address operating efficiency. He said some of the initiatives include better planning, focus on asset utilisation and alignment of train operations to customer requirements. He said their five-year business plan running from 2012 to 2017 has five strategic focus areas that include redefining the organisation’s business model, reintroduction of the passenger train and development of new rail lines.

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