OMUTHIYA - TransNamib yesterday launched its N$22 million modern tamping machine at Omuthiya substation, to work on the railway line from Tsumeb to Ondangwa. This will be the second machine to one which was bought in the 1970s.
The machine was procured in 2015 from an Austrian company Plasser and Theurus, but was only delivered in November 2017.
Due to its sophistication, last year a number of employees were sent to South Africa for training on how to operate the tamper.
The tamper is a heavy duty ballistic machine that can correct and maintain the geometry of the railway track, vertically and horizontally as well as super elevation on curves. It further removes the vertical roughness of the track. “The lifting is done proportionally to a reference level producing a uniformly level track which allows smooth passage of trains. In the absence of tamping, the vertical roughness will deteriorate exponentially,” explained TransNamib Chief Executive Officer Johnny Smith.
In addition, he said the machine is significant because there are some track activities that can only be done by mechanised track equipment. Smith said, at the moment they are covering 55-60km of maintenance in a month with the machine, although he said it can do 70km.
He further acknowledged that TransNamib has been marred with challenges over the years, but pleaded with the public to have confidence and develop a positive attitude. “The commissioning comes at a time that we are busy transforming the company with the implementation of its new business plan focusing on doubling freight volumes and revenue over a period of five years. Namibian rail network covers 2687km. The Minister of Works and Transport John Mutorwa in a speech read on his behalf by his deputy, James Sankwasa, was pleased to note that the acquisition of the tamping machine did not result in job losses. “I am informed that 52 Namibians are employed to work along this important machine. Therefore, this machine does not necessarily replace the manual labour, but rather creates employment and develop unique skills in the railway sector,” observed Mutorwa. Mutorwa, was however distressed with dormant business operations at Omuthiya substation, he thus implored TransNamib, the business fraternity and community of Omuthiya to unlock the real value of the station.
“I want to see this station being transformed and create value for the people of Oshikoto. TransNamib is willing and able to bring containers, bulk and break-bulk goods to Omuthiya station. Since the mainstay of Omuthiya is agriculture, I would like to encourage all to bring their produced mahangu, processed or not to be carried by trains to various markets,” stated the minister.