THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has moved more than 1,9 million tonnes of freight in the first eight months of the year, against its yearly target of 3,5 million tonnes, an official has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
NRZ public relations officer, Nyasha Maravanyika told NewsDay in an interview that the parastatal was targeting to move 3,5 million tonnes of freight this year.
“We are targeting to move 3,5 million tonnes of freight [this year], but we may slightly fail to reach that target. But it might be too early for us to say that because so far, as of August, we have moved between 1,9 million tonnes and 2,2 million tonnes of freight,” Maravanyika said.
“It’s slightly above half of the target that we set. We hope that we can reach 3,5 million tonnes. We are on course.”
Maravanyika said passenger numbers may have dropped because of capacity issues.
“For the Bulawayo-Victoria route, we have been doing better in terms of the times. We have challenges with the Harare-Bulawayo route due to locomotives inefficiency. We don’t have enough locomotives,” he said.
NRZ had a target to move 387 000 passengers.
Maravanyika said NRZ has discovered a new niche market in chartered steam locomotives, describing it as “a game-changer”.
“We have had improvements in terms of revenue. It also benefits the tourism sector, as it is mostly being hired by foreigners.
Influx of foreigners improves our tourism sector,” he said.
On the $400 million recapitalisation project, the NRZ spokesperson said the deal was still on and they were currently awaiting feedback from the government on the recommendations they had submitted.
“Once we get that feedback, then we will know what would be the next stage,” he said.
NRZ has embarked on a recapitalisation project, which will cost $400 million. DIDG/Transnet, a consortium of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and Transnet, won the tender for the project, although the deal looks dead in the water.
Maravanyika said they were optimistic that NRZ will rise from the dead.
“Prospects of the NRZ recovering are always anticipated. We need to take into cognisance of the fact that the NRZ has embarked on a recapitalisation project. This shows the will of the shareholder, the government, to ensure revival of the company. Five years might be a too-near judgment,” he said.
Maravanyika decried cash challenges in the country, saying they were affecting their operations.
“Just like any other entity in Zimbabwe, the cash challenge has been weighing us down. But, as NRZ, we have given our customers many payment options. They can choose to pay using plastic money or mobile money services. We are not limiting them to cash payments only,” he said.
Maravanyika said NRZ needed a complete overhaul of its equipment to be fully operational.
“It is a fact that NRZ need an overhaul in terms of recapitalisation of equipment. There are many challenges that are affecting us, but the major one is recapitalisation. This is the reason why we need a partner.”
There have been some suggestions that the government should ban transportation of bulk goods by roads to protect NRZ, but Maravanyika said such “ring-fencing for us might be good, but the issue of capacity comes into play”.
“Ring-fencing, yes, but are we able to carry all the goods efficiently? I think it has to come when NRZ has been capacitated.”