By Debra Matabvu
The National Railways of Zimbabwe will resume full operations in June after implementation of the US$400 million recapitalisation deal sealed between Government, South African firm Transnet and the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Secretary Engineer George Mlilo said as part of efforts to revive NRZ, President Emmerson Mnangagwa will this week commission 200 coaches and 13 locomotives in Bulawayo.
The trains were leased from South African company Spoornet until the Transnet-DIDG deal is fully implemented.
Eng Mlilo said, “The wagons which will be commissioned on Friday by His Excellency is a lease agreement NRZ made with South Africa’s Sporenet, while the long-term consortium partners are finalising their programme.
“Government wanted to revive NRZ within the 100-day plan, that’s why we are leasing the wagons. We hope this will also lessen pressure on the roads as travellers were shunning the railway system.
“We are also working on the resuscitation of the passenger train. We want to resume the original schedule where inter-city routes will be serviced regularly.”
Government has prioritised resuscitation of rail infrastructure as one of the pillars of economic revival.
According to timelines, the NRZ Debt Assumption Bill will be gazetted in March. The debt assumption plan was delivered to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development last month.
This will facilitate takeover of the US$348 million NRZ owes creditors and allow new investors to start on a clean slate.
Transnet and DIDG will administer NRZ trains under a build-operate-transfer arrangement, and will assist to raise freight capacity, operate and maintain existing and new infrastructure, and generate revenue. The parastatal is set to rake in over US$2 million revenue annually. The Sunday Mail