Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.
Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.
There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”
The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”
During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.
6 Best Forex Trading Platforms for Botswana Traders
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This is a proprietary and innovative trading platform developed by AvaTrade, one of the most popular Forex brokers in the industry.
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Gov’t swiftly acts on BMC
Government has moved swiftly to place Botswana Meat Commission under the care of a management firm; the move is meant to put the Commission into shape both operationally and financially.
This was disclosed by Finance and Economic Development Minister, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, further stating the BMC is technically insolvent despite having received nearly P1billion as a bailout in recent times. The new management company will run BMC, which is based in Lobatse starting on the 2020/2021 financial year.
The finance minister made it crystal clear that, the move to appoint a caretaker firm for BMC was made to protect the interests of all stakeholders, including farmers. According to Matsheka, the Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security, Dr Edwin Dikoloti will provide more details on the BMC changes in due course during his committee of supply speech. Government is also proceeding with the conversion of BMC to a company under the Companies Act following the approval of BMC Transition Bill and subsequent repeal of the old Act.
The repealing of the BMC Act has since eliminated the monopoly of the Commission when it comes to beef and cattle export. The repeal has also enabled government to establish a beef regulator which will be responsible for regulating the beef and the cattle sector. “Another aspect of the transition is the ultimate privatization of BMC.
The objective of the privatization of BMC is, among others, to engage the private sector in the ownership and management of the BMC to achieve operational efficiency and profitability, as well as reduce Government’s future financial commitments in the entity. This would be an important process in the transformation of the beef and cattle sector,” noted Matsheka. BMC which is 100 percent owned by government has been operating with losses for many years due to internal and external challenges such as poor supply and Foot and Mouth Disease(FMD).