By John Kachembere
The Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG), in partnership with South Africa’s Transnet will next week deliver the first consignment of 13 locomotives and 200 wagons as part of the $400 million National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) recapitalisation.
DIDG executive chairperson Donovan Chimhandamba told The Financial Gazette that the team will use the event, to be held in Bulawayo, to speak publicly on the project for the first time.
“In addition, DIDG will set out the company’s vision and strategy for driving investment and the revival of Zimbabwe’s strategic industries.
“DIDG will also share its broad -based inclusion plans and future projects,” he said.
The first delivery of the trains to NRZ is expected to bring capacity into the parastatal which has failed to move about 200 000 tonnes of chrome ore from ferrochrome producer Zimasco’s mines.
It is estimated that NRZ requires about $2 billion to turn around its fortunes, but the $400 million would help reposition the parastatal for self-sustenance.
The parastatal is a vital cog in the country’s economy and has potential to make the country an important regional transport hub.
It is hoped that the restoration of the NRZ’s operational capacity will renew confidence in the local industry and make the parastatal a preferred and cheaper mover of bulk freight in and outside the country.
“As you might be aware, the parastatal is under recapitalisation and the government has made significant strides by identifying an investor to revive NRZ and it is under this arrangement that the issue of improving on efficiency, as well as number of wagons, not only for Zimasco, but all our clients, is being taken note of,” NRZ spokesperson Nyasha Maravanyika said.
Other mining companies such as Zimplats have had to move ore and production matte using road, which comes at a higher cost, as the NRZ is sitting on dilapidated infrastructure and obsolete wagons.
However, Transnet and DIDG are expected to help NRZ raise its freight capacity and enhance its shipment volumes. The Zimbabwean railways parastatal had earmarked to move 3,7 million tonnes of cargo in 2017.
The decay in the railways parastatal has impacted on timely movement and production of mineral ore at a time Zimbabwe, according to the chamber of mines, is expecting mineral earnings to top $2,5 billion this year.
Zimasco said it is stuck with 200 000 tonnes of ore that the NRZ had failed to move on time.
Zimasco has about four smelting furnaces, two of which are being used by Portnex, a South African company under a lease agreement with the Zimbabwean company. DailyNews