Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle -

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

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