Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Botswana Railways crisis: CEO confesses coaches are not new

The troubled Chief Executive Officer CEO of Botswana Railways BR Dominic Ntwaagae is reported to have confessed to the BR board that the recently launched R280 million passenger train coaches are not entirely new.

The revelation comes after the new passenger train BR Express generator van failed to supply power to the coaches enables the air conditions to run, lights as well as the water reticulation. 

Information passed to this publication suggests that BR board recently held a meeting with Ntwaagae in which he allegedly confessed that some components that include the “bogies “ train wheels of the passenger coaches were not new and plans will be made to correct the defects.  

Sunday Standard has learnt that Ntwaagae is expected to be fired from his position by the BR board following allegation of corruption over the purchasing of about 37 passenger coaches from Trans Net at a cost of R280 million.

The BR board is also reported to have reached a consensus that Ntwaagae should be shown the door and an internal investigation has to be conducted. Although the BR board was scheduled to hold a meeting on this past Friday, it was postponed indefinitely. The board is only expected to sit next month and decide the Chief Executive’s fate.

Ntwaagae is alleged to have confessed that he met with the manufacturer who promised that they would replace the components that appear to be ‘second hand’ and the replacement will be done after the passenger train has been launched.

When asked at recent press conference held in Francistown about his alleged confession before the board, Ntwaagae replied that he would not disclose what was discussed in the board. He maintained that the coaches are brand new.

He indicated that they have received about 25 coaches and the remaining 12 coaches are expected in a short space of time that includes sleeper coaches.

He revealed that they have not yet exhausted all R280m and still within the budget.         

About the recent raid by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime DCEC in Mahlapye in which computers and cells phones were seized, he said BR will cooperate with the DCEC to further investigations.

BR Board chairman Modise Modise refused to give any comment on the matter.

“I am sorry I will be able to respond sometime,” he said.

Meanwhile the chairperson of Botswana Railways Amalgamated Workers Union BRAWU Gaebepe Molaodi said the union is of the view that the CEO must be suspended from his position to allow the investigations to be carried out smoothly.

“We will not stop advocating for his suspension no matter how long it takes. The passenger train experienced technical problems when it was expected to return from Francistown to Gaborone and this raises lots of questions that need answers but the only thing that can clear the air is to establish an inquiry that will reveal the unknown,” she said.

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