THE government is working on mechanisms to ban haulage trucks from transporting heavy goods on the country’s roads, as it adopts a double-pronged approach to protect the country’s roads and empower the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
In an interview with our Harare Bureau, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Joram Gumbo, said once implemented, the development would go a long way in protecting the country’s roads and reviving the fortunes of NRZ.
He said consultations were currently underway, adding that a legal position would be announced in due course.
“The ministry notes the appeal from the railways stakeholders to ring fence some products to rail,” he said.
“We’re identifying the products to be ring fenced and will take it to Cabinet for a way forward in the national interest given the requirements and the impact on road infrastructure.”
Some of the heavy goods that are currently transported on the road including mineral ores, coal and sugarcane.
Gumbo said the government was also alive to the challenges facing the NRZ, adding that efforts were underway to capitalise it.
He said it was important to ring fence some goods to rail instead of road as this destroyed the road infrastructure.
“We don’t want to just ban transportation of bulk goods from the roads and leave companies stranded. We know that the wagons are down and that the railway line and communication are in bad state.
“But we’re adopting a double-pronged approach where we’re supporting NRZ through legal provisions on ring-fencing and at the same time working hard to get an investor who can come in and capacitate the NRZ by sorting the infrastructure side of railways and wagons that are currently down. We’re currently talking to a number of prospective investors.
“We can’t talk of economic revival without NRZ in the picture. It’s a key economic enabler that deserves all the support from the government because for industry to tick, they need rail transportation and to sustain their operations, they also need rail transportation. For instance, we’re talking of importing thousands of tonnes of maize from Zambia and to move the maize across the country but can we do that using haulage trucks?
“That’s how critical NRZ is to Zimbabwe. Unfortunately it was neglected for too long a time. But as a ministry, we’re working hard to ensure that we get an investor to capacitate it so that it can contribute to the attainment of Zim-Asset goals,” said Gumbo.
He said rail business was viable in Zimbabwe particularly in the mining and agricultural sectors that were on the rebound.
Gumbo said for that reason, they did not expect hurdles when courting investors to capacitate NRZ.
He said the ministry was also working hard to improve the road infrastructure in Zimbabwe.