Lo­cals shun Vic­to­ria Falls tram com­pany bid

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Leonard Ncube

LIQ­UI­DATED Vic­to­ria Falls Steam Train Com­pany only at­tracted three bids av­er­ag­ing be­tween R1 mil­lion and R1.3 mil­lion for its tram and coach which are be­ing auc­tioned.

The com­pany’s as­sets were put un­der the ham­mer to cover debts amount­ing to close to $1 mil­lion, in a de­vel­op­ment likely to badly af­fect tourism.

The liq­uida­tor, Mr Wins­ley Mil­i­tala of Petwin Ex­ecu­tor and Trust Com­pany, said all the bids were from South Africa as there were no tak­ers lo­cally.

“Bids closed on Septem­ber 8, 2016, and we re­ceived two for the tram as well as one bid for the stage coaches,” said Mr Mil­i­tala.

He said his com­pany was in the process of ver­i­fy­ing the bids be­fore the win­ning bid­der can be an­nounced.

“The bids are be­ing ver­i­fied. Of the bids re­ceived, none were re­ceived lo­cally as all were from South Africa. The bids re­ceived av­er­aged be­tween R1 mil­lion and R1.3 mil­lion,” he said.

Mr Mil­i­tala said the com­pany has to­tal li­a­bil­i­ties of $837 261 against non-cur­rent as­sets of $294 900.

The com­pany was reg­is­tered in 2000 to op­er­ate, mar­ket and sell ex­cur­sions on his­tor­i­cal trains and trams in Vic­to­ria Falls. It has, how­ever, been strug­gling since 2014 when its tram was in­volved in a col­li­sion with a Na­tional Rail­ways of Zim­babwe train. One tourist died while 20 oth­ers were in­jured.

“The busi­ness op­er­ated well un­til the time a tram was in­volved in a col­li­sion with an NRZ train and that, cou­pled with the pull­out of the in­vestor-Ba­toka Hos­pi­tal­ity— pre­cip­i­tated the col­lapse of the com­pany as the in­vestor now de­manded a re­pay­ment of a loan amount in ex­cess of $250 000,” said Mr Mil­i­tala.

He said since Vic­to­ria Falls Steam Train Com­pany was prac­ti­cally in­sol­vent due to non-op­er­a­tions of its dam­aged tram, the di­rec­tors saw it fit to ap­ply for vol­un­tary liq­ui­da­tion by spe­cial res­o­lu­tion.

Mr Phillip Charles Steel, who is the ma­jor share­holder with 70 per­cent shares, is the di­rec­tor of the com­pany. The other share­hold­ers are Mrs Shee­lah Alexan­dra Bell (10 per­cent), Michael Napier Clin­ton (10 per­cent) while David James Simp­son and Wil­liam In­gram Davis each have five per­cent. Go­ing into liq­ui­da­tion, the com­pany had al­ready ceased op­er­a­tions.

The tram was used to carry out oc­ca­sional runs with tourists to the Vic­to­ria Falls Bridge. The open-sided tram is a mod­ern built replica of a clas­sic 1890s model and ac­com­mo­dates about 30 pas­sen­gers.

Once tourists are on board, the tram be­gins its gen­tle 20 minute ride down to the Vic­to­ria Falls Bridge past the Vic­to­ria Falls Rain­for­est. — @ncubeleon

were re­ceiv­ing food aid in­clud­ing those at Ching­wizi re­set­tle­ment.

“The re­ports on vil­lagers in Ward 2 eat­ing ba­boons be­cause of drought are un­founded. I made my in­ves­ti­ga­tion and found no clue on the story. I saw the story in one of the lo­cal pa­pers but they are all false­hoods. Iron­i­cally Ward 2 is over sub­scribed as there is gov­ern­ment , Zim­babwe Red Cross So­ci­ety and Mwenezi De­vel­op­ment Train­ing Cen­tre pro­vid­ing food aid,” she said.

She said the food for work pro­gramme was in full swing in all wards where fam­i­lies re­ceive 50 kg of maize af­ter work­ing for 60 hours monthly in gul­ley fill­ing or road main­te­nance.

“I can safely say no one is starv­ing in Mwenezi. The ba­boon story is a hoax,” she said. — @wal­terbm­swazie2.

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