Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and state security agencies have intensified patrols to fight theft and vandalism of rail infrastructure as the parastatal continues to implement its turnaround strategy.
Intensifying the fight against theft and vandalism of rail infrastructure augers well with the ongoing restructuring exercise at NRZ, which also focuses on improving the firm’s operational efficiency.
NRZ acting public relations manager Mr Martin Banda told Business Chronicle that efforts by his organisation in collaboration with State security agents were bearing fruit as several arrests and convictions have been made.
“NRZ security branch, working together with other state security agencies have stepped up patrols to account for people stealing railways property.
“The fight has started bearing fruit as several arrests have been made with some leading to convictions.
“NRZ, is pleased also with the prison sentences being meted out to people convicted of stealing its cables and so far, three people have been convicted and sentenced to the mandatory 10 years in prison each,” he said.
Mr Banda reminded the public that stealing or tampering with rail infrastructure has negative consequences as they can result in loss of human life due to mishaps, derailments while movement of people and cargo will be delayed awaiting repairs thereby affecting the economy.
NRZ, which is strategic to Zimbabwe is also expected to contribute exponentially to the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), a five-year economic blue-print running from 2021-2025.
Under NDS1, the country was now focusing on stimulating productivity with the country having moved from economic recovery following the successful implementation of a two-year Transitional Stabilisation Programme (2018-2020).
As a bulk carrier, NRZ is expected to play its part by transporting various commodities such as those produced by the mining and agriculture sectors.
“NRZ urges the public to report cases where they see people tampering with its equipment.
Cases can be reported to the NRZ or the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” said Mr Banda, adding that his organisation was running a number to annihilate theft and vandalism of the firm’s assets.
“The NRZ runs the vandalism and theft, rail/road level crossing, illegal gold panning, stone-throwing and safety, and the whistle-blowing campaigns to fight against the vandalism of rail equipment and infrastructure.
“The whistle-blowing programme rewards people once conviction is done to reported cases of vandalism to rail infrastructure and those who help protect railway assets.”