By Auxilia Katongomara
The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has to conclude the legal framework for its $400 million recapitalisation agreement with the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)/Transnet before February 2019, failure to which the deal would collapse, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Engineer Biggie Matiza, has said.
NRZ took delivery of leased equipment in March this year under a $400 million recapitalisation deal with the DIDG/Transnet.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa officiated at the reception event in Bulawayo for the first installment of the equipment under an interim solution scheme that was meant to give the company a grip while modalities of the $400 million package were being finalised.
Minister Matiza, however, noted that legal due diligence for the deal has been slow and feared that the parastatal might fail to meet the deadline.
He said this during the official opening of the ministry’s strategic planning workshop at a Bulawayo hotel where he acknowledged on-going engagements towards securing funding for the recapitalisation of NRZ.
“However, the finalisation of the legal due diligence has been painstakingly slow. Let me remind all involved that we have a due date and we remain with two months, counting this December and January 2019,” said Minister Matiza.
“Come end of February 2019, if nothing has materialised, Government will be forced to re-engage. I note the interim solution by NRZ to hire rolling stock from Transnet. However, if we do not finalise the current negotiations, all this effort will not bear any fruits.”
NRZ is a strategic pillar in the economy whose revival is expected to impact positively on downstream industries countrywide and in Bulawayo in particular.
Turning to Air Zimbabwe, Eng Matiza also acknowledged the continued operations of the national flag carrier despite the challenges it was facing.
He said the company needs urgent business review and financial support to transform.
“Going forward, Air Zimbabwe needs to consider more strategies for increasing revenue collection and attracting more clients by streamlining issues such as time and cost of travel,” said Eng Matiza.
He said the reconstruction process approved by Government and the appointment of an administrator for the airline would help bring about the sustainable transformation through a well thought out turnaround strategy, which should address the capitalisation requirements.
Eng Matiza commended the Department of Roads and the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) for the rehabilitation and maintenance of road infrastructure in the country.
“The issue of road rehabilitation is quite topical in Parliament and Cabinet. There are high expectations for the rehabilitation reconstruction and construction of roads and bridges in the country. Some of this infrastructure is now unpassable thus requiring huge capital injection or being redone,” he said.
Eng Matiza said some of the priority roads include the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu, Mutorashanga-Mapinga and Beitbridge-Bulawayo Highways.
He said the Road Motor Services has also managed to complete phase one and two construction of the Walvis Bay Dry Port Facility Project as an alternative route for exports and imports.
Eng Matiza said he was anxious about the pace at which they were operationalising the facility saying there was a need for the utilisation of the space that has been provided by the Namibian Government.
The Minister expressed concern over the recent spate of fatal accidents, a majority of which were attributed to human error.
He also called for the speedy restructuring and reformation of some parastatals under the ministry.
“It is important that we speed up the splitting of the entity within parameters of fundamental concrete policies and legislation as amended. In addition the legal separation of RMS from NRZ and NHS from Air Zimbabwe must be accelerated in order to eliminate the corporate governance challenges caused by the current status quo,” said Eng Matiza.
He urged all the ministry’s parastatals to offer the best service to the Zimbabwean populace.
The five-day strategic workshop is being attended by parastatals and departments under the ministry.
Deputy Transport Minister, Advocate Fortune Chasi, Permanent Secretary Eng Amos Marawa, chief executive officers and principal directors are among delegates attending the workshop. The Chronicle