NRZ GETS 31 NEW WAGONS
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has acquired 31 new wagons worth about $3 million from China as part of its broader refurbishment programme to replace its ageing fleet, an official has said.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development Mr Munesu Munodawafa said the new wagons will be commissioned within the next two weeks.
“NRZ will be commissioning 31 new wagons in the next two weeks that we bought from outside the country. As we talk they are now in Bulawayo and there is a team doing final checks on them,” he said.
NRZ has has failed to run profitably for years due to undercapitalisation and ageing equipment. The giant firm requires around $400 million in the short-to-medium term for re-capitalisation with Mr Munodawafa saying efforts to raise the required resources are underway.
The permanent secretary was speaking at a prebudget workshop organised by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure last Friday.
“In terms of the more significant railway infrastructure rehabilitation we are looking at the track and signalling system and as I have indicated the negotiations for funding are still taking place.
“We are focusing on other issues that need to be attended to before we secure the required funding for bigger projects and the wagons is just one of the subprogrammes that need to be undertaken,” he said.
The NRZ has 168 locomotives, of which only 64 (or 38 percent) are serviceable. And only 3 467 of its 7 255 wagons are operational.
The parastatal has 3 500 operational wagons for moving cargo but most are ageing or in a state of disrepair. NRZ has performed poorly in recent years, and has incurred losses of more than $200 million between 2009 and 2013.
Its 2014 accounts showed that its freight unit was generating annual revenue of $91,2 million, but incurring costs of $103 million. The passenger unit had annual revenues of $3,2 million, with costs over three times more at $10,9 million.
The parastatal has said it requires up to $2 billion to fully recapitalise.
At its peak, NRZ employed nearly 20 000 workers and moved 18 million tonnes of freight annually. NRZ now moves less than 100 000 tonnes per week following the collapse of industry and poor rail infrastructure. The workforce is down to 5 700 employees.
NRZ is one of the 10 state enterprises targeted for reform by Government and its revival is seen as crucial to the revival of the local industry.
Speaking at ZimTrade exporters’ conference on Thursday, central bank deputy governor Kupukile Mlambo urged the Government to resuscitate NRZ to promote exports and ease of doing business.
“To move goods from Zimbabwe to export centres; we need a good infrastructure and our infrastructure has deteriorated over the last years, so we need good railroads. We need a functioning NRZ and so on. We are the most expensive country in terms of financing exports because of our infrastructure,” said Mlambo. — BH24/The Source
Mr Munesu Munodawafa