Indonesia proposes NRZ deal . . . To improve operations and enhance attractiveness National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) Chief Traction and Rolling Engineer Daniso Simon Mlambo stresses a point to delegates during the tour of the NRZ in Bulawayo yesterday. On his right is the Indonesian Ambassador Juniarta Sastrawan, (far left) is the NRZ board chairman Advocate Martin Dinha and Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Judith Ncube

Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter

INDONESIA has proposed an infrastructure development package to capacitate the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to improve operations and enhance its attractiveness to potential investors.

The capacity building programme is expected to be implemented soon, anchored on a wider spectrum covering aspects such as skills and technology transfer, management development and exchange programmes under the Indonesia International Economic Co-operation Programme.

The NRZ board and management met the Indonesian team in Bulawayo yesterday and later conducted a joint tour of the parastatal’s mechanical workshop and training facilities. Indonesia Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Juniarta Sastrawan, led the visiting team.

“The ultimate goal of the capacity building is to make capacity of NRZ ready for the future of revitalising of the railway and we are ready to continue on that co-operation in the future as well,” he said in an interview.

“By next year we hope to have a concrete plan of the capacity building programme that we have with NRZ. Capacity building that we have is on how we can support the future investment and business of the NRZ. We are here as a partner of NRZ to find investors from all over the world.”

The ailing parastatal requires about US$1,9 billion to fully recapitalise operations. A fortnight ago, Cabinet revoked the US$400 million NRZ recapitalisation programme signed two years ago with the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG). The deal was cancelled after Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joe Biggie Matiza presented a report to Cabinet stating that DIDG had failed to comply with contractual timelines. 

Amb Sastrawan said the key to having the NRZ rail infrastructure capacity building project was to unlock good planning, which will ensure a good offer to potential investors.

“We are coming here to assist NRZ to find a good investor.

“The next step if we can work together is to find an investor for NRZ, it could be us, it could be any other country or a private company. This is the partnership we would like to build with NRZ,” said Amb Sastrawan, who was accompanied by the Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs, Judith Ncube, and officials from the Embassy of Indonesia. 

In a separate interview, NRZ board chair Advocate Martin Dinha said in the recent months they had been engaging the Indonesia Embassy in Zimbabwe within the framework of the Indonesia-Africa Infrastructural Development.

“We had our delegation that went to Indonesia to attend the Africa-Indonesia Summit and Indonesia is coming out with a package to match up other giants in terms of support for Africa.

“They have identified rail as one of the low hanging fruits where we can get advantages in terms of capacity building for our institution as you are aware NRZ has been affected by lack of capitalisation from the shareholder (Government). The infrastructure at NRZ has gone down and so is the rolling stock, that is, locomotives and the wagons. Performance is very low to meet expectation of industry. We want to turn around NRZ and bring it to its hey days,” he said.

Adv Dinha said the capacity building offer from the Indonesia was broad, covering many aspects in terms of human resource, management development, technological transfer and exchange programmes.

At present, Indonesia’s State-owned railways firm, PT Industri Kereta Api (Inka) is in negotiations with NRZ over a deal that could possibly lead to the latter buying rolling stock from the Asian country. In her remarks after the meeting at NRZ boardroom, Minister Ncube said the resuscitation of NRZ infrastructure was crucial as it facilitates the manufacturing industry to enjoy economies of scale.

“The resuscitation of NRZ is very crucial as it will assist the manufacturing industry as well as exporters who will have comparative advantage derived from low production cost through transportation of raw materials and finished products using railway transport, which is the cheapest mode of transport,” she said.

Minister Ncube noted that when operating at full throttle, NRZ becomes more efficient adding that it was Government’s hope that Indonesia will establish a long-term relationship with the railways company and help Bulawayo regain its status as the industrial hub of the country. @okazunga

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