THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport, chaired by Dexter Nduna, yesterday recommended an urgent forensic audit of the financially-troubled National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).
BY VENERANDA LANGA/SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
The call came following a crippling strike by NRZ workers who downed tools last Tuesday and camped at the parastatal’s depots countrywide in protest over non-payment of their outstanding salaries for the past 15 months.
The picketers at the NRZ Lochnivar depot in Harare this week comprised men, women and their children.
“This will assist the evaluation of the viability of NRZ and how it can be saved from the present state. The results of the study should be used to come up with NRZ’s strategic plan to resuscitate the parastatal,” the committee report said.
“Government should urgently gazette a statutory instrument that stipulates that all bulk transportation of coal, chrome ore and other bulk goods should be carried by rail only.”
The committee said NRZ started losing business in 2000 when the number of its locomotives decreased from 101 to 80 and wagons were reduced from 9 019 to 5 824 due to lack of capitalisation.
“NRZ accumulated a salary backlog of $68,5 million, its creditors $230,3 million, and $10,5 million for debtors as at May 2015. Former Minister of Transport Obert Mpofu told the committee NRZ approached the Development Bank of South Africa to source $653 million. Of that, $388 million will be used for track infrastructure and $265 million for rolling stock,” the committee noted.
Nduna’s committee urged the government to recapitalise NRZ and appoint a substantive and qualified general manager to steer it from the murky waters.