Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
EQUIPMENT received by the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) under an interim solution pending the $400 million recapitalisation project, has started impacting positively on the organisation’s operations, an official said.
The parastatal is leasing 13 locomotives, 200 wagons and seven locomotives from South African rail utility, Transnet as a stop gap measure under an agreement with the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)/ Transnet consortium.
“All the 200 wagons have been put to dedicated use for chrome exports from the Zimbabwe Iron and Mining Company (Zimasco) Kildonan in Mashonaland Central and Zimasco Kwekwe to Maputo.
“Chrome exports utilising the first batch of wagons started on March 29,” said NRZ public relations manager Mr Nyasha Maravanyika in a statement.
He, however, said the 151 wagons released under the first batch could not be put into service soon after they were received by NRZ because of an embargo on loadings at Maputo port due to an acute shortage of loading space.
“The remaining 49 wagons were availed to the NRZ on April 20. Since deployment chrome producers have managed to reduce stockpiles of chrome as the gap between demand and the product uplifted is reduced,” he said.
Mr Maravanyika said NRZ was now able to also meet demand for its wagons from other customers. In the case of clinker, the parastatal has 253 wagons dedicated to clinker movement while the customer was requesting an average of 100 wagons a week.
On the passenger side, he said the NRZ was pleased to note passenger coaches leased from Transnet were proving to be popular with passengers. “The coaches were deployed on the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route and started operating on March 28, 2018. From that time the NRZ has witnessed an increase in patronage on its passenger train on that route,” he said.
Mr Maravanyika said there has also been a significant rise in passenger figures with an average 300 people boarding the train daily compared to 240 recorded before their deployment.
“NRZ is leasing the coaches from Transnet to complement those owned by the parastatal as it seeks to reposition itself as a transporter of choice with the travelling public on inter-city routes.
“The passenger services offer a number of advantages over road transport,” he said.
“These include safe travel, affordable fares and comfort in the sleeper and standard coaches while dining cars are available on some routes.” Under its $400 million recapitalisation project with DIDG/Transnet consortium, NRZ will acquire rolling stock, signalling equipment and information communication technology equipment to increase capacity utilisation.
The NRZ system has a design capacity to move 18 million tonnes of freight a year but is moving just over three million tonnes and the recapitalisation programme is expected to improve freight volumes. — @okazunga