The "Union International de Chemins de Fer (UIC) - MAPS Seminar" at Rabat/Morocco: May 1996 came to the following preliminary conclusions :
1.0 Competition from different modes of transport, more specifically from the road sector, is bound to increase. Main factors responsible for this situation are: major expansion of road networks and the absence of a level playing field in respect to true cost of transportation.
2.0 No railway company can afford to remain stand-still. All must change.
3.0 Most railways are approaching the market on the lines of business organisations. All railways need to adopt the same approach.
3.1 This approach can involve a series of measures which are not necessarily mutually exclusive:
a) remain vertically integrated model but removing away the "monolithic" model, thanks to clear definition of business units with transparent accounting practices to clearly establish the costs of carrying out each business;
b) divesting most activities not linked to the core business of transportation like manufacturing, housing, health care must be clearly separated from the core business either by setting subsidiaries or by transferring to the private sector;
c) more active involvement of the private sector e.g. by concessions activities in some business activities.
3.2 Railway operators must be given flexibility and freedom of fixing tariffs especially in case of the freight sector in order to be responsive to the market needs.
3.3 To set up clear contractual agreements with the public authorities (national, regional or local) to meet the expenses when they set Public Service Obligations especially in the field of sub-urban and short distance passenger traffic.
4.0 Major issues involved in restructuring would be:
(i) Clear definition of business activities and objectives;
(ii) Conducting good negotiations with the staff on the need of the essentiality of redundancy and settlement of redundant staff;
(iii) Development of human resources through proper training to bring out a cultural change to adopt a market oriented approach.
5.0 The restructuring process must avoid over-dependency on consultants. Developments utilising in-house development of restructuring models considering local situations and environment are more appropriate and must be combined with outside appraisals.
6.0 The Seminar has shown the wide range of solutions which can be applied to achieve the objective of the restructuring. However, all these solutions convey the following common message:
#Conducting a restructuring process need a strong political support;
#Railways need very strong market oriented approaches to carry out its core business with transparent accounting procedures. Absence of this approach will result in serious fall in market share with ultimate collapse of the system;
#Railways need to work together as unified body to ensure level-playing fields with other modes of transport.
More Namibia-related it has to be stated that a real independent Namibia can only exist with its own functional harbour facilities as an end point for southern Africa's major transportation axes, the Trans-Kalahari and Trans-Caprivi links.
This study has shown that because of the nature of the South African bonds, Namibia's political and also transport policies have little changed before independence. After the hard won independence on 21 March 1990 it has been proved that independence in itself is not enough. It had to be followed by major restructuring and reorientation of internal relations and external linkages. This restructuring and reorientation of transport matters was especially necessitated in areas like consistent planning patterns for all regions of the country. The dimension of this task can clearly be illustrated with respect to the whole Namibian transport sector since it supports the entire economy, forming the basis of linkages between the domestic and external domains, and therefore symbolises clearly either a potential "noose or lifeline" situation for Independent Namibia. Namibia's railway system can only fulfil its expected role to improve the life of Namibians and to unite the nation if it will be the future "Link to Africa".
Since the date of independence of the Republic of Namibia on March 21th, 1990 the assets of the Namibian railways were systematically eroded by the management of TransNamib. This erosion took place in order to cross-subsidise the ailing Namibian airline, Air Namibia, especially its transcontinental flights to Europe: "The Namibian airline is bleeding the Namibian railways to death"! In 2001 the Namibian railways under the umbrella of the newly formed TransNamib Holdings Ltd. were separated from Air Namibia which is on the brink of bankruptcy. But, also the Namibian railways are operating under a constant pressure of loss-making and on the brink of collapse. In order to turn the Namibian railways around, the Government of Namibia appointed a new Board of Directors for TransNamib Holdings Ltd. On April 15th ,2002, the Board elected unanimously the author of this Study as Chairman of the Board. This might be the last chance to save the Namibian railways from the fate of total disappearing.
A Strategy Paper in order to "turn-around" TransNamib Holdings Ltd. and to safe the Namibian Railways is attached as an Annexure.
The Web-Site of TransNamib Holdings Ltd. you can find under www.transnamib.com.na