Monday, June 1, 2020

SA fuel syndicate makes a hit & run on Botswana Railways

BY PORTIA NKANI

Botswana Railways (BR) has engaged an Independent Petroleum consultant to establish the causes of in-transit losses of fuel from South Africa to Botswana, Sunday Standard has established.

This comes after the rail company realized that every now and then when the fuel arrives at the destination station in Botswana from South Africa, there are losses of missing fuel incurred which further present a huge challenge to Botswana Railways’ freight business. The consultant will further look into the whole fuel transportation system and come up with a solution.

Botswana Railways was meant to appear before the Parliaments’ Committee of Statutory Bodies and State owned Enterprises this Thursday morning but was returned back by the Committee chairperson Legislator of Gabane-Mankgodi, Pius Mokgware, due to the absence of its Chief Executive Officer, Leonard Makwinja.

In an interview with Sunday Standard on the consultant engaged, Acting CEO Chelesile Malele said there is a syndicate involved in stealing of fuel particularly on the South African side. Malele said, “We have since realized this challenge in the Mafikeng station where there is serious shortage of fuel. Some emanates from the sources, being the suppliers and some in-transit. Sometimes we find out that when it arrives here in Botswana, the seals are broken, sometimes some are not the original seals from origin, and they have been changed. Sometimes the readings are not compatible.” According to Malele, BR management has also since engaged its partners, Transnet on tightening the security, so that the product is delivered intact to Botswana.

The BR team is dedicated to have a service that gives clients what they want; it is therefore for the above reasons that the consultant will do a thorough survey on the matter.

Botswana Railways’ main revenue is freight business under its subsidiary Gabcon Company.  During the year under review Gabcon contributed to the Group revenue about P3million profit which the company executives told Sunday Standard that it will be reinvested in building a freight village.

The latest annual report of the financial year 2018; the organisation’s overall performance in this aspect was subdued mainly due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. Chief Executive Makwinja mentioned in the report that, in terms of the tonnage, “our target in the year under review was 2million tones and we only achieved 1,5million tones. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors salient among the factors being lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing.” The continued business constraints and challenges experienced with its partner Transnet further contributed to the adverse performance of the organization even in the year under review.

Further to the losses of fuel through the syndicates, Makwinja in his report also indicated that the company’s biggest failure in the freight business is on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa to Botswana proved to be a huge challenge “due to the fact that our rail tankers had some defects which consequently resulted in some disputes with some fuel companies. This was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper.”

In another ways of addressing the challenges, BR has since procured 11 locomotives and with an increase in locomotives power comes increased capacity and efficiency to deliver on its mandate. On this note, the company remains hopeful that there is a positive outlook in terms of revenue going forward. The company looks to embark on an aggressive business and marketing initiatives if it is to comfortably meet its mandate objective.

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