Toll Royal Railways chief executive David Kerr is on track to leave Cambodia by the end of the month, according to his expected replacement.
Bobby Luow, a 40-year veteran of the rail industry, mainly in South Africa, told the Post he had been brought in to take the reins from Kerr.
Kerr, most of the remaining expatriate staff and half of Toll Royal’s Cambodian employees were expected to stop working on March 31, the Post reported last month.
The stoppage was the result of Toll Group, majority owner of Toll Royal along with Cambodia’s Royal Group of Companies, informing the Cambodian government of its intention to suspend operations for one year from April 1, the Post reported.
Toll Royal holds a 30-year lease from the government to operate the national railway, but insiders have said the Australian parent was unhappy with the pace of the rail’s redevelopment.
Staff at Toll Royal’s offices at the Phnom Penh rail station said yesterday only Kerr and chief operating officer John Guiry were in Australia, and would not answer questions about the company’s Cambodian employees.
During a brief interview yesterday, Luow said the company had entered a transition phase where Kerr would be phased out and Luow would most likely take the lead on the project.
But he declined to make any statement to the press about the future of the project, given the early stages of that transition, saying he would “probably be in a position to make a comment in a few weeks’ time”.
Paul Power, a railway consultant to the Cambodian government, said yesterday that Toll Royal had in fact suspended service as of March 31 and that 60 Cambodian staff had been laid off.
The government was assessing the situation in order to decide on its next steps, Power said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Brennan at [email protected]