By Pamela Shumba
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has completed refurbishment of 10 locomotives and 336 wagons in an effort to boost its fleet and position the entity for increased freight volumes, a senior Government official has said.
Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development human resources director, Mr Andrew Murungweni, told delegates at the Mine Entra Conference in Bulawayo last week that Government was prioritising rail and road infrastructure upgrades as key economic enablers.
He said efforts were being made to assist NRZ to regain its status as a bulk transport unit.
The desire is to increase freight volumes from six million tonnes to design capacity of 18 million tonnes per year.
“The ministry has been rehabilitating the railway tracks and so far we’ve done 58km. A total of 10 locomotives and 336 wagons were also refurbished.
“In total we have 1 186 and we’ve added 20 locomotives on our rail,” said Mr Murungweni.
“Our rail is designed in such a way that we’re supposed to move 18 million tonnes per annum but we’re only moving six million tonnes.
“In order for us to improve the carriage we hired 15 locomotives from Transnet and 350 wagons in 2018.
“Out of the hired 15, five were sent back to Transnet because they’re not functioning very well.”
Mr Murungweni said while the country’s rail system had deteriorated, the ministry has made sure that goods are delivered from one point to the next.
“Our ministry is paramount because it’s a facilitator. I think you agree with me that before 2017 our road infrastructure was really bad but it has improved. Most roads are being constructed while some are being rehabilitated and this is making accessibility possible,” he said.
“People can now travel from border to border because our roads are good. It’s a matter of time before all the roads are perfect.”
Last year Government announced that it was working towards raising US$300 million from bonds issued by the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) for road repairs across the country.
About US$100 million had already been released to the transport portfolio for road repairs by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. The funds were disbursed to local authorities to repair the roads.
President Mnangagwa is on record as saying infrastructure development is key to economic development and also helps create employment. The Chronicle