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NRZ deal done by Q1: Chinamasa

THE $400 million National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) recapitalisation deal will be finalised in the first quarter of 2018, Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa

A consortium of non-resident Zimbabwean professionals, the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) partnered South Africa’s Transnet to win the contract to revive the NRZ in August this year. The deal received Cabinet approval in October.

“Following government approval, negotiations to recapitalise NRZ, in partnership with a Consortium of Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) and Transnet of South Africa, are at an advanced stage,” Chinamasa told Parliament during his 2018 national budget presentation last week.

“The ‘Framework Agreement’ has been finalised, paving way for the development of a Model Agreement, which will be submitted to Cabinet for approval, with all the processes expected to be concluded by the first quarter of 2018.”

The recapitalisation of the NRZ will restore the key economic role of rail transport, an affordable mode for bulk transportation which eases the cost of doing business and, hence, domestic production competitiveness, Chinamasa added.

“The recapitalisation programme targets refurbishment and replacement of NRZ rolling stock, signaling, ICT and track infrastructure, among others, under a joint venture partnership model estimated to cost US$408 million,” the Finance Minister said.

“This will raise NRZ’s capacity to move cargo from the current 3,8 million tonnes to its peak of 18 million tonnes per annum. Meanwhile, a budget provision of US$10 million has been set aside to cater for required emergency works on the rail network.”

Meanwhile, the Johannesburg-based DIDG this week donated sanitation chemicals, equipment and promotional material worth thousands of dollars towards the typhoid awareness and environmental health action initiative.

Speaking at the handover event held at The Immaculate Conception & Our Lady of Lourdes church in Harare’s Highfield suburb on Tuesday, DIDG’s chief financial officer Washington Mashanda said the group would also consider investing in water and sanitation infrastructure.

“We should never underestimate the importance of sanitation, and hygiene in our communities. As DIDG it is our firm belief that good health and sanitation services are an essential part of the country’s critical infrastructure,” Mashanda said.

“Adequate drinking water, wastewater management, sanitation, and hygiene are all essential ingredients to ensure a sustainable human health system. DIDG’s investment focus includes targeting investments that provide sustainable solutions for the country and improve the capacity of the country to deliver safe and reliable clean water supply that is accessible all the time.

“As DIDG, we are exploring various projects aimed at building a preventive and efficient water infrastructure which is critical for ensuring the effective functioning of the economy while protecting its citizens from such water-borne diseases like typhoid.” The Financial Gazette