By Thupeyo Muleya
A Total of 108 wagons and seven locomotives that were acquired from South Africa as part of the resuscitation of the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) have arrived in the country through Beitbridge border post.Their arrival is part of a $400 million recapitalisation deal sealed between Government, South African firm Transnet and the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group.
The Chronicle is reliably informed that the wagons started arriving on Saturday evening.
Sources close to the deal said a total of seven diesel powered locomotives, 108 wagons and five passenger coaches are expected to have reached Bulawayo by the end of this week.
They said another 92 wagons and six more locomotives would be delivered at the end of this month. By the end of day yesterday one locomotive with 50 wagons had left Beitbridge for Bulawayo.
DIDG chief executive officer Mr Donavan Chimhandamba said the wagons are being leased from Spoornet and will be replaced by new ones which are being manufactured by Transnet Engineering.
“The initial batch of seven locomotives and 108 wagons has crossed into Zimbabwe. These will be heading for Bulawayo between Monday and Tuesday. In addition we are expecting more locomotives and passenger coaches to arrive in Musina, South Africa, by end of day on Tuesday,” he said.“These are on lease from Spoornet and will be replaced by new ones which are being manufactured by Transnet Engineering and shall be delivered within 18 months”.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to commission the 200 coaches and 13 locomotives in Bulawayo this week.
Government has prioritised resuscitation of rail infrastructure as one of the pillars of economic revival.
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 as well as generate revenue.
NRZ board chairperson, Cde Larry Mavima said they were expecting more deliveries of equipment by the end of the week.
“We have received the initial consignment as we move a gear up towards resuscitating NRZ. We expect more locomotives, wagons and coaches by the end of the week. The whole package includes 10 locomotives, three shunt locomotives, 34 passenger coaches and 200 wagons,” he said.
Cde Mavima said the revival of NRZ would also breathe life into several organisations which depend on the transport and logistics sector.
He said they had brought in the equipment as part of an interim solution to capacitate the country’s rail transport while they await the delivery of new equipment which has already been ordered.
“So far we have ordered new wagons and locomotives, which we expect to be delivered in the next six months and two years respectively.
“These are the fruits of a new Government led by President Mnangagwa, and our mandate as NRZ is to contribute to national economic development through relatively cheaper transport and logistics facilities,”said Cde Mavima. The Chronicle