In light of new revelations that the recently launched R280 million BR passenger train coaches are not new, fingers are already being pointed at the management for maladministration.
The revelation comes just days after the ‘new’ BR Express experienced technical glitches in the power engines, a development that resulted in the engines shutting down somewhere between Mahalapye and Palapye.
According to the minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo, investigations have so far revealed that diesel for the power car engines was contaminated with water and thus causing the engines to shut down, adding that the cause of diesel contamination is still being investigated.
He also said the power van or generator van is the only power supply for air conditioners, toilets and lights, adding that this then resulted in all these facilities shutting down.
“A total of 2,432 passengers have been transported in the last six days since the commencement of the passenger train,” said Mabeo.
He further said that both train sets are still at commissioning stage and have not been issued with the final acceptance certificate which will not be done until all defects have been fixed and signed off. Mabeo added that in terms of the signed contract the coaches carry a 2 year warranty.
According to Mabeo, a lot of challenges adversely affected service on the South bound train on March 23rd 2016, as there were delays in departure and arrival times. He said on March 24th, the fuel was drained for the second time from the contaminated tanks in Gaborone. Since the problem persisted, Mabeo said the train service was then cancelled on March 26th and Botswana Railways hired coaches to transport passengers to Francistown.
Amongst other things, the train developed problems with air conditioning units, malfunctioning toilets and power tripping. Since then, Botswana Railways has sent the train sets to Mafikeng for maintenance daily since March 25th.
“All the notable defects have been rectified on both the train sets and are now in good condition, with both trains having resumed full service,” he stated.
Asked to confirm or deny that the newly purchased coaches from Transnet were not brand new and were second hand coaches, Mabeo denied and stated that he once took a tour to Cape Town where the coaches were manufactured. He dismissed speculations that Botswana Railways bought second hand coaches from South Africa.