Transport and Communications Minister, Kitso Mokaila has challenged Botswana Railways (BR) to wake up and drive the parastatal’s diversification exercise.
Over and over again BR is counted amongst the worst performing and loss- making parastatals in the country due to varying reasons, ranging from alleged corruption, poor planning and complacency.
Mokaila said the biggest mistake that many parastatals have made over the years was to rest on their laurels because the government has tried everything to protect them by making services they offer a monopoly.
He lamented that under the blanket of monopoly, most of the companies have watched as their services went down but since they were protected thanks to government bailouts, they could not foresee any danger.
Mokaila pulled no punches as he added that parastatals remained delusional and boastful since end users had no choice but to make do with their shoddy services. He further said most of the companies simply forgot that the main reason they were set up was to generate money for the government.
Mokaila said parastatals became poorly managed companies just waiting for the government to come with bucketfuls of money to rescue them. Instead of telling the nation about their services and turnaround strategies, Mokaila said it became commonplace for the companies to tell anyone who cared to listen that they were looking forward to the government bailing them out.
However, Mokaila highlighted that the 2008 global finance crisis that brought about the poor performance of diamonds on the international market has drained the government purse, hence the government’s inability to bail out most of the parastatals.
He said the global recession brought most of the country’s parastatals to their knees, literally being kept afloat by occasional sales of scrap material. Mokaila said one such company, once the envy of every citizen, once the biggest employer in the country and among the biggest in the country is BR.
The minister said recently BR has been facing many challenges, which are mounting with each year. Based on all this, Mokaila has challenged BR to wake up and explore new initiatives, including within the freight industry through which to propel the parastatal to greater heights.
Mokaila is optimistic that Botswana can be turned into a transportation hub linking Southern and Central Africa.
Picture coutrtesy of The Daily News