By Farayi Machamire
National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)’s rolling stock and locomotives unveiled by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on February 21 took over a month to be operationalised as they were held up in Bulawayo by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) over customs clearance.
Mnangagwa unveiled NRZ’s 20 locomotives and 200 wagons from South Africa’s Transnet, as part of measures to revive the parastatal under an agreement with the Diaspora Investment Development Group (DGIG)/ Transnet Consortium.
However, the stock, which was coming into the country duty free, was only able to get onto the tracks on March 28, with 49 wagons only availed to NRZ as of Friday last week.
While Zimra commissioner general Faith Mazani directed questions to the commissioner of customs who had not responded to questions sent last week by the time of going to print yesterday, the Authority’s nonexecutive chairperson Willia Bonyongwe said she was hearing about the delay for the first time, as operational issues were outside her board’s purview.
“I will pass this one, you can talk to management…However, I need to point out that the Zimra board is very committed to its mandate and is 100 percent supportive of our government,” she said.
NRZ public relations manager Nyasha Maravanyika acknowledged the stock could have been put on the tracks sooner, but insisted there were various formalities at play.
“There was no inordinate delay. We were only finalising the various formalities, including customs clearance for them to start moving. While we waited on Zimra, it also gave us an opportunity to train our engine men,” he told the Daily News.
He added: “The…wagons could not be put into service soon after they were received by the NRZ because of an embargo on loadings at Maputo Port due to an acute shortage of loading space.”
Since the rolling stock took to the tracks, NRZ has raised its freight capacity and enhanced its shipment volumes, Maravanyika said.
“The equipment received by NRZ as an interim solution pending its recapitalisation project has started making an impact on the organisation’s operations. All the 200 wagons have been put to dedicated use for chrome exports from the Zimbabwe Iron and Mining Company (Zimasco) Kildonan in Mashonaland Central and Zimasco Kwekwe to Maputo.
“Chrome exports using the wagons started on March 29 utilising the first batch of 151 wagons. The remaining 49 wagons were availed to the NRZ on 20 April. Since deployment chrome producers have managed to reduce stockpiles of chrome as the gap between demand and the product uplifted is reduced. NRZ is now also able to meet demand for its wagons from other customers.” DailyNews