NRZ-Russian wagons deal in limbo

A wagon deal between the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and a Russian company is hanging in the balance, with the cash-strapped national railway carrier now struggling to raise an initial deposit of US$1.5 million before the latter could deliver the first consignment into the country.

In October last year, NRZ signed a deal with Union Wagons of Russia in that country for the supply of 5 000 wagons, with the first batch of 100 expected to arrive in the country in January 2020 at a cost of US$10 million.

The deal, which came barely a fortnight after Cabinet cancelled the US$400 million NRZ recapitalisation tender that had been won by the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) and South African logistics group, Transnet in October 2016, was expected to breathe a new lease of life into the troubled state entity.

Asked on the lack of progress on the once-celebrated deal by journalists in Bulawayo, NRZ board chairperson, Martin Dinha, disclosed, they were financially constrained to push the deal through.

The troubled and loss-making government-wholly-owned NRZ was only allocated ZW$25 million in the 2020 budget.

Dinha who said they had nothing to hide, revealed: “We are looking for US$1.5 million.

The deposit that we must pay for the wagons to come is US$1.5 million, so we are looking for that but unfortunately, we were given ZW$25 million by the government in Zimbabwean dollars. Our dilemma is that we are still looking for foreign currency to pay for the wagons; the down payment.”

He further emphasized they had nothing to hide in as far as the deal was concerned, adding the unavailability of the money was a stumbling block.

“That is where we are at the moment,” he further elaborated.

“Once we raise the money and pay the US$1.5 million, we will secure the 100 wagons, our first chunk; there is nothing to hide. This is where we are; so, if you guys have US$1.5 million please lend me, lend me and we will have the wagons in Zimbabwe.”

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