THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) will this month commission 31 wagons secured from China at a cost of $2,9 million as part of efforts to boost its carrying capacity.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
In an interview with NewsDay yesterday, NRZ acting public relations officer Martin Banda, said the wagons have already arrived in Durban, South Africa.
“They are expected to leave Durban today (yesterday) and commissioning would be done probably late September,” he said.
Banda said the wagons were supported by a dual breaking system, making them ideal to transport exports.
He, however, said the wagons were a drop in the ocean as the parastatal needed more than 3 000 to restore its operational capacity.
Currently, NRZ has less than 3 500 wagons compared to 9 000 it had a few years ago.
Banda said in the short period, they needed to buy over 200 new wagons and refurbish over 600 to enable NRZ to break even.
Recently, Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Joram Gumbo disclosed that since the beginning of the grain importation programme, NRZ has so far moved more than 200 000 tonnes of maize and was targeting to move between 700 000 and one million tonnes.
Banda appealed to the government to protect NRZ by outlawing bulk transportation of goods by road.
NRZ has been incapacitated due to lack of business as trucks have taken over their market.
Banda revealed that NRZ needed about $400 million for retooling and recapitalisation.
In the long term, the ailing parastatal requires about $1,9 billion to fully recapitalise its operations. It is struggling to offset its legacy debt of about $144 million owed to various creditors.
It also slashed salaries by up to 50% as it continues to face viability challenges amid declining business volumes and charges of mismanagement.
A report by the Auditor-General on NRZ’s 2014 accounts showed that its freight unit was generating annual revenue of $91,2 million, but incurring costs of $103 million. The passenger unit had annual revenues of $3,2 million, with costs over three times more at $10,9 million.
Last month, Gumbo said NRZ has attracted a number of potential investors across the globe including Europe and Asia to partner it in resuscitating its operations.