The country’s railway line is in bad condition, owing to years of neglect, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) board chairman Martin Dinha has said.
Once the biggest transporter of large volumes of goods, NRZ today only moves a fraction of what it used to carry during the country’s early days of independence as a result of dilapidated infrastructure including the railway line.
Dinha, who was in Bulawayo last Thursday after attending the state entity’s strategic planning workshop in Matopos, acknowledged the railway line was in a sorry state.
“Our railway line is in a bad shape because it has not been attended to many times,” said Dinha.
“We appeal to the government to quickly disburse the ZW$25 million allocated to NRZ in the budget so that we use it to repair the railway line. Functional economies have very efficient public transport systems where people can easily move from point A to B for social reasons, for economic reasons and work-related reasons.”
Dinha blamed the state of affairs at NRZ on sanctions, that he said were making it impossible for them to import spares into the country.
According to NRZ general manager, Lewis Mukwada, train accidents were on the increase in 2019, something attributable to the poor railway line.
“Poor state of infrastructure saw the number of train accidents increase, resulting in the closure of rail corridors for days while repairs were being carried out the track,” said Mukwada.
Both Dinha and Mukwada said they would not just sit back while awaiting the government to secure an investor for the ailing strategic company but would come up with alternatives to generating business.
The company is currently in talks with China Mining Logistics Holdings Company, over a deal to transport 2 million metric tonnes of iron ore annually, from Bindura to Beira in Mozambique.
“Our approach is that we are now chasing after the business. Anyone who has large volumes of haulage to be carried, in and outside Zimbabwe, we are going for you, we want to carry the goods for you.”
Mukwada could not be drawn into disclosing how much the company would benefit should the deal sail through.
“Suffice to say, we are still in the negotiations, we are just starting now,” said Mukwada.
“Of course, you do not apply standards rates when you are looking at volumes like that, there are volume discounts.”
Meanwhile, the cash strapped NRZ is struggling to refurbish its old wagons.