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We need paying not protesting partners

By Vision Reporter

Added 9th February 2010 03:00 AM

EXECUTIVE TALK

For years across East Africa, business growth has been stifled and the free movement of people and goods constrained due to chronic underfunding in our rail system.

EXECUTIVE TALK

For years across East Africa, business growth has been stifled and the free movement of people and goods constrained due to chronic underfunding in our rail system.

EXECUTIVE TALK

By Lucas Chogo

For years across East Africa, business growth has been stifled and the free movement of people and goods constrained due to chronic underfunding in our rail system.

Change – long overdue and deeply welcome – now looks imminent, putting us finally in the driving seat of our journey to build East Africa into a united trading bloc capable of attracting and retaining critical investment to power our shared growth.

Rift Valley Railways (RVR), for long the laughing stock of the region and so critically ripe for a turnaround, stands at a critical juncture.

The Governments of Kenya and Uganda have made it clear there are to be no more failures with the concession.

The new partners will be held accountable for delivering the financing they commit on paper and for managing the concession professionally and profitably.

According to inside sources, nearly all shareholders, led by Sheltam, have now contributed to the first capital call. This marks the first capital injection into the company in two years and is a highly encouraging sign.

The failure of the concession so far was primarily as a result of the shareholders failing to deliver on their promises of capital injection among other things. RVR has now cured most of their termination notices by paying close to $4m of delayed concession fees against which termination notices had been issued.

Therefore, the two governments should not have a problem with considering alternative restructuring options as presented by RVR. Now that financial resources of the shareholders have been committed and delivered, they can get on with the job at hand – giving us the functioning and efficient railway we deserve.

Progress is being made on the management side too. The RVR management team is also due, next week, to hold its first meeting with ALL (America Latina Logistica) in order to accelerate progress towards reaching a management service agreement with all parties, as per the request of both governments and lenders.

It is also understood that management is working to resolve all outstanding issues between shareholders and employees in order to ensure the RVR employees feel a sense of ownership in the new company and understand they have a real stake in its future success.

Surely with everyone now pulling in the same direction, the governments can recognise the strong desire for change on the part of the public and the strong commitment to deliver it from Sheltam and the other concession partners.

A positive tipping point has been reached. Let February 8 signal an end to the boardroom wrangling and mark a strong and shared dedication from the shareholders to deliver on their commitments to turn RVR around for the benefit of all.

Engineer Chogo is a former General Manager, TAZARA Railway

We need paying not protesting partners

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