Rehabilitation of rail system needs to be expedited: VP
THE rehabilitation of the country’s railway system needs to be expedited if the nation is to efficiently export its products and earn the much needed foreign currency, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
He said this while officially opening the fifth Zimbabwe Building Contractors’ Association conference in Nyanga yesterday.
VP Mnangagwa said the state of the railway system in the country was designed in the colonial era to suit the demands of that era.
“Infrastructure is the backbone of any economic development initiative. Efforts to recover the National Railways of Zimbabwe are commendable as this will eventually lead into the reduction in rail costs and benefitting industry at large. The current system was designed by the colonial system on the basis of what they wanted to achieve.
“We must make sure we rehabilitate the current railway network and ensure that we construct new railway lines. We must adjust it to the needs of the current situation we are living in. One moved coal from Hwange, which is required in Bindura or Chinhoyi, but that has to go through Bulawayo, Kwekwe then Harare until it reaches Chinhoyi. Why take that long route when we can cut costs over years by constructing a railway line that connects Chinhoyi and Hwange?
“Improved transport and communication networks reduce the cost of doing business, link cross border, and shorten delivery times, extent global reach to inputs and suppliers. Just for instance, our railway infrastructure currently has capacity to move about three million tonnes of chrome. If for instance, we want to grow the exportation of chrome and coal, these are high volume products, then we would need to move about 18 to 30 million tonnes, which the capacity of our railway cannot match.
“We said we could lift the ban on the exportation of chrome. We have 12 entities worth smelter capacity. Then we were told by those who went to school that the accessed volume of chrome in the country is in excess of 30 billion tonnes. If the railway capacity is two million or so, let us give you 30 million tonnes, which means that it will take them 15 years to move 30 million tonnes. It is necessary to link development with ancillary services.”
VP Mnangagwa also warned against failure to monitor operations of investors that come in the country, especially the Chinese.
“If you give a contract project to Chinese investors, you have to be vigilant. The Chinese will bring with them even labour and sand for the agreed project. You need to be awake and tell them water is here, labour is here and get from them what we do not have here. They are our all weather friends I know, and they can do good business with you only if you remain vigilant,” said the VP.
He also confirmed that the construction of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highyway will see 40 percent of the required services being sourced locally.
Speaking at the same function, Minister of State for Manicaland Affairs Cde Mandi Chimene stressed the importance of the infrastructure development industry in economic development.
The theme of the conference is: “Economic revival through infrastructure development”.