THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) management is this week expected to begin contract negotiations with the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)/Transnet Consortium to turn around the parastatal’s fortunes.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
The DIDG and South African railway utility, Transnet, were recently jointly awarded a $400 million recapitalisation tender by government to spearhead the revival of NRZ.
NRZ spokesperson, Nyasha Maravanyika, said the parastatal had been given the greenlight by the State Procurement Board (SPB) to engage DIDG/Transnet Consortium on contractual issues, among others.
“The NRZ is now geared for its next step in the recapitalisation project which is to engage the consortium for contract negations.
“The negotiations will commence next week. SPB has already granted authority to NRZ to engage DIDG/Transnet Consortium for further due diligence with other relevant ministries on the funding agreement modalities and report back,” Maravanyika said.
DIDG/Transnet Consortium emerged winner –ahead of five other bidders – shortlisted by the SPB.
The five other bidders for the NRZ revival include China Civil Engineering, Sino Hydro, accountancy firm Crowe Horwath & Welsha, SHM Railway of Malaysia and Croyeaux Limited of Zimbabwe. More than 80 companies attended a compulsory pre-bid conference in Bulawayo on May 30, 2017.
The recapitalisation process was initiated to restore NRZ’s operational capacity and to ensure it returns to profitability.
Analysts say mismanagement has taken its toll on the rail transporter whose trains are usually commandeered by the government to ferry ruling party supporters to its functions.
Most of NRZ diesel and electrical locomotives are out of service while passenger and freight services are constantly cancelled.
Other challenges facing the company include the widespread collapse of the rail infrastructure, vandalised communication equipment and dilapidated yard facilities.
At its peak, NRZ moved 18 million tonnes of freight annually.
Last year, the company moved three million tonnes of freight and has a target of 3,7 million tonnes in 2017, officials have said.