NRZ lob­bies for pro­tec­tion law

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Than­deka Moyo Chron­i­cle Re­porter

THE Na­tional Rail­ways of Zim­babwe ( NRZ) is lob­by­ing Cab­i­net for the en­act­ment of a pro­tec­tion­ist law to re­strict the car­ry­ing of bulk cargo through rail trans­port.

In a speech pre­sented on Sun­day dur­ing the 9th na­tional congress of the Zim­babwe Rail­ways Ar­ti­sans Union, NRZ act­ing gen­eral man­ager En­gi­neer Al­fred Gunzo, said the paras­tatal was lob­by­ing the Gov­ern­ment for a Statu­tory In­stru­ment as part of mea­sures to turn around the paras­tatal.

He said de­spite pre­vail­ing chal­lenges, the paras­tatal had recorded a slight rise in vol­umes since the be­gin­ning of the sec­ond half of 2016.

Eng Gunzo did not, how­ever, pre­sent fig­ures on the im­proved sit­u­a­tion.

“NRZ is cur­rently lob­by­ing Gov­ern­ment on the ring-fenc­ing of bulk com­modi­ties such as coal and chrome on rail through a Statu­tory In­stru­ment and this devel­op­ment, once en­dorsed by Cab­i­net, will un­lock value through re­duc­ing com­pet­i­tive pres­sures and im­proved mar­ket share,” he said.

In terms of re­cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion ini­tia­tives, man­age­ment in con­sul­ta­tion with the Gov­ern­ment is in the process of iden­ti­fy­ing a suit­able fi­nancier.

Eng Gunzo said they had made con­certed ef­forts to re­cover both for­eign and in­ter-paras­tatal debts while ef­forts are also be­ing made to en­sure that all out­stand­ing rev­enues are re­cov­ered from the real es­tate port­fo­lio.

He said the paras­tatal has signed a num­ber of trans­porta­tion deals with some com­pa­nies.

“We’ve jointly signed an MoU with NJZ for the move­ment of iron ore to Ma­puto. PPCZ is open­ing a new fac­tory in Msasa sub­urb in Harare and we’re ne­go­ti­at­ing with the cus­tomer for clinker move­ments to Msasa start­ing mid-Au­gust,” said Eng Gunzo.

He said NRZ had also signed an agree­ment to move coal from Beit­bridge to Harare.

“The in­ter­na­tional al­loy and ferro-al­loy prices have firmed up and the ap­petite for com­mod­ity ex­ports is in­creas­ing. We’ve fi­nalised com­mer­cial ne­go­ti­a­tions with com­pa­nies will­ing to use rail”.

Eng Gunzo said NRZ had re­ceived or­ders to trans­port maize and wheat im­ports into the coun­try to al­le­vi­ate drought up to June 2017.

“Move­ments are on­go­ing from Ma­puto, Beira, South Africa and Zam­bia. In­di­ca­tions from cli­mate ex­perts show that the drought ef­fects may last up to 2019 and economies need to cre­ate strate­gic grain re­serves. We’ll also put in place ini­tia­tives to re­cover debt from both for­eign and in­ter-paras­tatal debts to ad­dress some of our fi­nan­cial chal­lenges,” he said.

The gi­ant paras­tatal has over the years suf­fered losses and bal­loon­ing ar­rears to dif­fer­ent cred­i­tors in­clud­ing work­ers. Man­age­ment and the board have since hinted on plans to off­load close to 1 400 work­ers from an es­ti­mated 6 000 strong work­force as part of mea­sures to tame the bal­loon­ing wage bill.

NRZ owes work­ers over 15 months’ worth in un­paid salaries amount­ing to a to­tal of $87 mil­lion.

The NRZ is one of 10 state en­ter­prises tar­geted for re­form by the Gov­ern­ment.

At its peak the com­pany used to em­ploy about 15 000 peo­ple with a down­stream im­pact on other in­dus­tries — @thamamoe.

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