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What is wrong with the new head of Ukrzaliznytsia and how Akhmetov figures in here

The other day, the Cabinet appointed Oleksandr Kamyshin, who has no experience of working on the railway, but previously worked for Akhmetov's company, as the new Acting Chairperson of the Board of Ukrzaliznytsia.

Whether working for the oligarch can really impact the further steps of the head of Ukrzaliznytsia and what challenges he will have to face, The Page investigated with the help of subject matter experts.

The situation is worse than ever at Ukrzaliznytsia

Experts unanimously believe that now there is an extremely difficult situation in the company and it is not yet entirely clear how the authorities plan to deal with the problem, because the newly appointed head of the railway should remain in the position of Acting Chairperson only until the end of 2021. And then, after the competition, either he or someone else will be finally appointed.

And here an important question arises: how can a person with extensive managerial experience, but with absolutely none of it in the railway industry, cope with all the challenges that he will face in the near future.

Volodymyr Datsenko, the former head of the Railroad without Corruption NGO, believes that in order to settle the crisis situation in Ukrzaliznytsia, a competition should have been held in spring and the Supervisory Board should be re-elected, so that later, also through a competition, the entire board should be re-elected.

He notes that, on the one hand, the authorities are talking about the need to reboot the Ukrzaliznytsia board, and on the other, a specially constituted committee for the appointment of heads of especially important state-owned enterprises does not react to these statements. The conclusion follows from this: there is a struggle for the right to elect the leadership of the UZ.

«How in this process of grabbing the biggest piece of the pie the eyes of all interested parties (the Ministry of Infrastructure, the current Supervisory Board, and Bankova) caught Kamyshin's candidacy, is difficult to understand.»

Volodymyr Datsenko

Volodymyr Datsenko

Former Head of the NGO Railway without Corruption

Will Akhmetov gain influence on UZ through Kamyshin

Immediately after the appointment of a new Acting Head of Ukrzaliznytsia, the name of the scandalous Donetsk oligarch Rinat Akhmetov surfaced, since Oleksandr Kamyshin served as an investment manager in Rinat Akhmetov’s holding company SCM for seven years.

Therefore, the question arose: whether this will not affect the decisions that the new head of UZ will take.

Volodymyr Datsenko is sure that Kamyshin's work in Akhmetov's entities is an additional factor for concern.

But the Head of the Center for Transport Strategies Serhiy Vovk believes that work in Akhmetov's companies will in no way affect the work of Oleksandr Kamyshin at Ukrzaliznytsia, since he was only a hired employee—the same as now.

In addition, one of the priority tasks that the new head of UZ will have to solve will be the increase in prices for freight transportation that has already been agreed by the State Regulatory Service. And this directly contradicts the interests of Akhmetov, since representatives of big business oppose such an unpopular step.

«According to large companies, Ukrzaliznytsia should first be reformed, there should have been some changes in the economic efficiency of the company's activities, and only then prices should have been raised».

Serhiy Vovk

Serhiy Vovk

Head of the Center for Transport Strategies

What exactly is wrong with the new head of the Ukrainian railway

It turns out that the main problem in this appointment is the lack of relevant railway experience of the new leader, as well as the team that should bring him up to date.

"We are appointing a person without an idea of what railway transport is and how it functions as an acting chairman of the board. For at least six months, he will only have to familiarize himself with the structure of UZ, abbreviations, designations, the specifics of the problems, and the technical condition. This is a period of learning, not effective crisis management. Miracles do not happen, and a person without experience cannot come and immediately understand where the problem begins and how to solve it."

Volodymyr Datsenko

Volodymyr Datsenko

Former Head of the NGO Railway without Corruption

At the same time, as the expert notes, Kamyshin will have a whole bunch of problems that can only be imagined in a large company: a bunch of lost trials with billions of dollars in debt, the terrible technical condition of the railway, and tariff battles for increasing the cost of transportation.

Quote"The situation is much worse than when Balchun, Kravtsov, or Yurik were appointed. In fact, the situation is the worst for the entire existence of Ukrzaliznytsia," Datsenko believes.

Serhiy Vovk speaks out a little more cautiously:

Quote"At least a month is needed to understand what the first steps will be. It is clear what tasks the new leader is facing—the question is how this will be implemented."

According to Volodymyr Datsenko, the future of Ukrzaliznytsia has two prospects: either Kamyshin is prepared immediately to become the head, and the results of the competition are known in advance, or the role of the operational manager will actually be played by another person.

Quote"Perhaps, neither option is the best for the company," the expert believes.

What will Kamyshin do first of all?

Increasing prices for freight transportation, attracting international investors, transition to the purchase of electricity directly from Energoatom, and purchasing of new locomotives and trains were officially listed among the main areas of the new head's work.

Serhiy Vovk, the Head of the Center for Transport Strategies, is confident that the renewal of fixed assets will become a priority task, because the first thing that both an ordinary passenger and a business see is trains.

At the same time, UZ is experiencing a rather critical situation: economic indicators are decreasing, a shortage of locomotive traction has reappeared due to the fact that the company did not carry out the necessary reforms and purchases in time.

Quote"Now the number of transportations will only increase, because the season for the sale of grain is coming," he added.
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