Freeman Razemba, Harare Bureau
INVESTORS from DP World, which is owned by the Government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are today expected to wind up their assessment and come up with good solid locations to set up logistics entities and a dry port in Zimbabwe as Government moves to rehabilitate about 10 percent of the country’s 2 600km of rail line to ensure that there is a robust railway system.
DP World is expected to provide the country with rolling stock, that is locomotives, carriages and wagons, while by the end of this year, Government is also set to procure six locomotives and a number of coaches to buttress the business at NRZ.
This week, a three-member delegation from one of the largest marine terminal operators in the world, DP World, arrived in Zimbabwe to set up logistics projects and a dry port, becoming the second delegation of high profile investors to visit Zimbabwe after a team led by billionaire, Mr Shaji Ul Mulk, from the UAE.
The Government has already approved the setting up of US$1 billion worth of projects by Mulk Holdings International FZC, in a development that is in line with the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra.
The DP World delegation expressed interest in creating a new service and product for the country meant for the global market.
Their visit comes after Government in October last year spoke with DP World officials in Dubai as it continues strengthening co-operation in infrastructure development which includes the refurbishment of roads, railways, tolling, airports and inland marine business opportunities.
DP World is under the direct control of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, who is also Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE. It is one of the largest marine terminal operators in the world, with over 50 terminals and 12 new developments across 32 countries. Dubai is the major port of the UAE.
The three-member delegation comprised DP World chief executive officer and managing director for Middle East and Africa, Mr Suhail Albanna, CEO for Middle East and Africa region Mr Sumeet Bhardwaj and another DP World CEO, Mr Christian Roeder, who is based in Maputo, Mozambique.
On Wednesday, the delegation, which was in the company of Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona and National Railways of Zimbabwe board chairperson, Advocate Martin Dinha, met President Mnangagwa at State House.
One of them is still in the country and is expected to come up with a solid idea on which location to set up the dry port and logistics projects, among other investment opportunities.
In an interview, Minister Mhona confirmed the developments and said they wanted to resuscitate NRZ following the memorandum of understanding that were signed between DP World and National Railways of Zimbabwe in October last year.
He said DP World will provide rolling stock while the Government is resuscitating the railway line with only 10 percent of the line needing urgent work.
“Last year in October we embarked on a trip to Dubai where we toured one of the largest logistics companies under the purview of the Government of UAE known as DP World. They took us through their ports where they are also performing wonderfully in Special Economic Zones. They are also masters in logistics issues.
“And the idea behind all this is for us to resuscitate the National Railways of Zimbabwe which is one of the topical issues, one of the foremost agenda items that we have as a ministry. We want to see the railways back on track. As we were partaking in that exercise, we managed to engage DP World where we signed a Memorandum of Understanding between DP World and the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
“The idea was to find common ground where we can explore in terms of logistics issues and knowing very well the infrastructure that we have. Contrary to the views of the public that the rail system is in a state of decay, we are actually happy to say that over 2 600km, only 10 percent of that rail needs rehabilitation. As we are speaking we are seized with trying to rehabilitate these tracks and do away with the cautions and make sure that we have a sound and robust railway system,” he said.
In October last year, Zimbabwean officials were hosted by officials from DP World in the UAE and they also had an opportunity to tour their ports and Special Economic Zones.
“Just before we left Dubai, we had an action plan to say, the Government of Zimbabwe should immediately invite the DP World technical team to inspect the locations for potential building of dry ports and to meet other stakeholders such as the National Handling Services and the Ministry jointly with NRZ and NHS and other stakeholders such as ZIDA. We should constitute a working group to quickly formulate plans on modalities of engagement.
“Government must demonstrate commitment at the highest level by facilitating interface between representatives of the board of directors of DP World and the President or duly designated official,” Minister Mhona said.
He was happy that this had happened after the officials met President Mnangagwa on Wednesday.
“I was very excited because we then had to fulfil our action plans that were enunciated in October last year and now we are in an implementation mode where the delegation were very happy to say, “what a wonderful country, Zimbabwe has very broad opportunities at hand,” and quickly we are constituting the committee that will run with it.
“Above all what is exciting is to enhance the whole Government approach. We are also going to be working with Ministry of Industry and Commerce to incorporate the Special Economic Zone, here we are talking of Sunway City. As an action plan from our Ministry, we are constructing a road and you know the one that has been talked about, Delport Road, which will then go straight into that Special Economic Zone to facilitate trade and where we will have connectivity from the rail to the airport and I am sure this is something we are working on now.
“And I am happy that we will also run with the bigger vision of His Excellency’s Agenda 2030 that everyone must be prosperous and empowered,” he said.
Minister Mhona said as a listening President, Cde Mnangagwa on Wednesday heard for himself that DP World was now serious in implementing the projects that they had identified.
“Also another major milestone, the technical team was in the country from 8 March to 11 March and they have produced a report and their coming (into the country) signifies that they are happy with their findings. Now they are on an implementation trajectory where they want to fulfil what they have seen.
And I am happy that these are some of the initiatives that we are taking and as well we are also running with Ministry of Finance to make sure that we resuscitate NRZ. Before the end of this year, we will procure six locomotives and a number of coaches to buttress the business at NRZ and to actually offload the burden that we are witnessing on our roads back to the rail. So I am very happy that this is the beginning of better things,” he said.