Government pledges $2 billion for NRZ refurbishment

25 Nov, 2022 - 00:11 0 Views
Government pledges $2 billion for NRZ refurbishment Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Responsible for Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes Dr Joram Gumbo (right) accompanied by the National Railways of Zimbabwe staff tours NRZ workshops in Bulawayo

The Chronicle

Sikhulekelani Moyo/ Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter

GOVERNMENT has pledged ZW$2 billion to fund the refurbishment and resuscitation of National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) as the transport entity is a cog in the attainment of Vision 2030.

This was said by the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes Dr Joram Gumbo, during a visit to NRZ workshops in Bulawayo yesterday.

The delegation comprised Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Permanent Secretary, Mr Paul Nyoni who was representing Minister Judith Ncube and NRZ acting Chief Operations Officer Mrs Ainah Dube-Kaguru with Government officials and NRZ staff, toured workshops at the parastatal.

Minister Gumbo said Government is determined to resuscitate NRZ to enable the country to benefit from a robust and efficient railway network.

“Government continues to support your efforts to re-equip and re-capitalise the organisation to give you a competitive advantage. In this regard, ZW$2 billion has been pledged to fund the refurbishment and rehabilitation of NRZ infrastructure,” said Minister Gumbo.

“I have been informed that the target for this year is to refurbish four mainline, five shunt locomotives and 940 wagons. I urge you to apply yourselves fully to this project given the fact that for the entity to operate optimally, 122 locomotives, 6 130 wagons and 170 coaches are required.”

National Railways of Zimbabwe train (File picture)

Early this year, NRZ signed a deal with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) counterpart, Societe Nationale des chemins de fer du Congo (SNCC) which was meant to refurbish 200 wagons.

Under the arrangement, the repaired wagons would be used to ferry coal from Hwange to Kolwezi in the DRC while exploring ways to increase rail traffic between the two corridors.

Minister Gumbo said the increase in goods transported by roads instead of rail has contributed much to the damage to roads and increased accidents.

He said the completion of the NRZ project is expected to ease the pressure.
He also urged the company to embrace the use of information communication technology to address the problem of vandalism of infrastructure, which has been happening in the organisation.

Considering its geographical location in the Southern Region, Minister Gumbo said Zimbabwe has the potential to become a transport and logistics hub and he said there is a need for a modern transport system.

“I am happy to report that Government has already made significant progress in road infrastructure through the ongoing expansion, dualisation and rehabilitation of major highways and feeder roads,” said Minister Gumbo.

“Similarly, Government is determined to resuscitate the NRZ to enable the country to benefit from a robust and efficient railway network system.”

In her welcoming remarks, which were read on her behalf by Mr Nyoni, Minister Ncube said NRZ is a key institution to the development of Bulawayo and the nation at large.

She said the development of Bulawayo as a city has been closely linked to a viable railway network.
“NRZ gave birth to numerous manufacturing companies and service providers in Bulawayo and across the country, which provided employment to thousands of people and supported tens of thousands of others as dependents,” said Minister Ncube.

“It is therefore no coincidence that when NRZ started experiencing operational challenges, companies in Bulawayo witnessed a sharp drop in business and capacity utilisation.”

The parastatal has embarked on a US$3,5 million revamping programme of its rolling stock to improve operational efficiency.
The project includes a US$2 million export-fit wagons refurbishment initiative that began in October 2021 and is expected to save Zimbabwe millions of dollars in foreign currency.

The railway organisation is grappling with a host of challenges among them, obsolete rolling stock fleets, ageing railway lines and old wagons and coaches.

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