Troubled NRZ goes for ‘TomToms’

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The financially-troubled National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has secured satellite speedometers for its obsolete locomotives which of late had been operating without speedometers, putting the lives of train drivers and passengers at risk.

Recently, the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) produced a damning report on NRZ, and recommended its closure after discovering most of its equipment was malfunctioning.

NRZ spokesperson Fanuel Masikati told NewsDay on Sunday the acquisition of speedometers was part of the parastatal’s $15 million infrastructure rehabilitation programme funded by the Finance ministry.

“We are very much concerned with the safety of our workers. As such we have imported satellite speedometers called TomToms which can be used anywhere. The train drivers will start using them soon,” said Masikati.

He said the new speedometers could also be used on cars or any other vehicle to gauge one’s travelling speed.

“One just places the meter in the vehicle and as she or he drives, it will detect the speed. I agree we have some engines without speedometers, as such we have purchased a number of meters equivalent or more than the engines to avert the crisis. The fact is all the engines will have the meters now,” he said.

Masikati declined to disclose the cost or the source of the TomToms.

At present, the NRZ has about 30 operational locomotives, most of which have no speedometers.
Most NRZ locomotives operate without vigilance units, radio communicators, doors, window seals, wipers, gauge or cab lights, hand brakes, sanders, fire extinguishers and snubbers.

The purchase of the satellite speedometers by NRZ comes in the wake of a recent probe by Nssa which established that the parastatal’s infrastructure and engines were in a state of dire disrepair.

The Railway Association of Enginemen had petitioned Nssa to investigate NRZ engines and infrastructure, alleging most of them were malfunctioning and unsafe to use.

Nssa’s director of occupational safety and health, Rodgers Dhliwayo, said the NRZ had cited financial problems as the main cause for deterioration of infrastructure at the parastatal.

The NRZ has also been struggling to pay its employees on time.