Saturday, September 23, 2023

Parley committee recommends forensic probe on BR

The Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State-owned Entities (PCSBSE) has recommended a forensic audit at the ailing Botswana Railways. 
The recommendation by PCSBSE chairperson, Tati East Member of Parliament, Guma Moyo is said to give strategic direction of the parastatal after the audit report. 
In his views, Moyo told the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Botswana Railways Dominic Ntwaagae and BR Finance Director Mao Segage that he observed that the parastatal was faced with poor systems of control, unfair processes of procurement, perception of corruption as well as possibilities of corrupt practices.
“I have no confidence on the board of directors. Most of the projects are not viable and profitable and the company is being owed a lot of money,” said Moyo.
Moyo also expressed no confidence on the viability on BR’s Dry Port by Walvis Bay in Namibia which is currently running at a loss. Currently Botswana Railways has inland ports that offer safe and cost effective movement of containerised cargo. These are Gaborone Container Terminal (GABCON), Palapye Container Terminal (PALCON) and Francistown Container Terminal (FRANCON) dry ports. It is through these ports that trans-shipment of goods to the SADC region can be done by BR.
Ntwaagae said the BCL mine closure had an impact on the BR financials as they used to transport 84 000 tonnes of coal per annum with a rough estimate of about P9 million in a year. He added that the loss of the BCL business is about + or ÔÇô P10 million.
“There are talks between three governments of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique on commercial and viability of business regarding railway line,” said Ntwaagae.
Quizzed on the project and progress of the Trans Kalahari Railway (TKR) which involves South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, he stated there was an office in charge of the project adding that it was not monitored by BR.
Further quizzed on the Property Development BR Properties (PTY) Ltd, which is a 100 percent subsidiary of BR, Ntwaagae stated that the core mandate was to unlock the potential of BR’s real estate through sound property management and development practices. 
He added that In April 2012 BR Properties (PTY) Ltd opened Rail Park Mall in Gaborone on an eight-hectare piece of Botswana Railways land. He said Rail Park Mall was developed in partnership with the private sector.
“Worldwide one would find that railway companies sit on very prime pieces of land across different countries such as in Britain and Australia. They then utilise the prime land by developing it for generating income and diversifying the financial streams of the companies hence BR considered the development of Rail Park Mall,” said Ntwaagae.
The BR management is of the view that its 562 wagons of the passenger train was done through the necessary processes of procurement. BR also is on the list of BCL creditors with about P7 million payment and BR is currently sitting on a P4-billion asserts base.



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