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‘Fifty year old trains being introduced by ZUPCO are not the solution’

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |

Zimbabweans are worried by a decision made by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to partner the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) with colonial-era National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) locomotives that were decommissioned long back.

The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) - Zupco commuter train service launched by Minister of Local Government and Public Works Hon. July Moyo at Harare Station.
The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) – Zupco commuter train service launched by Minister of Local Government and Public Works Hon. July Moyo at Harare Station.

Government this week reintroduced rail coaches citing the need to reduce the transport crisis facing the country. They are expected to run a passenger service with fares of ZWL60 in Harare and Bulawayo.

But observers and citizens are worried that these trains are not safe for public transportation because some of them are more than 60 years old. They were commissioned in the 1960s during colonial rule.

“The move to resuscitate worn out and run-down coaches under the auspices of Zupco as part of resolving transport crisis in Zimbabwe is once again exposing the government that it does not give regard to the safety of Zimbabweans because those coaches have long been decommissioned.

“We are talking about coaches that were commissioned in the 60s and ran for more than 30 years. An ordinary coach would have a lifespan of 30 years. We all know that since the early nineties to today, NRZ has been involved in massive corruption and there has never been maintenance and purchase of new ones,” an observer, Pride Mkono said.

The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) - Zupco commuter train service launched by Minister of Local Government and Public Works Hon. July Moyo at Harare Station.
The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) – Zupco commuter train service launched by Minister of Local Government and Public Works Hon. July Moyo at Harare Station.

Opposition MDC Alliance youth leader Obey Sithole said: “The people’s President @nelsonchamisa talked about bullet trains, they vilified him. Now they’re here celebrating the re-introduction of trains that are as rusty as the remains of bullets used in the colonial era. To end this barbarism, let’s register to vote.”

Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana posted a video on Twitter of a locomotive and admitted that they looked bad but they were working.

“It may not be swanky but it’s doing the job. At least the citizens are traveling safely and in large, on time. We are not there yet, but the direction of travel is correct,” he said.

The MDC Alliance said the trains belonged to the museum and they are Covid-19 superspreaders adding that Harare Metropolitan Province needed a modern public transport system to cater for its ever growing commuting public.

“Fifty year old trains being introduced by ZUPCO are not the solution. In fact they are part of the problem. Harare needs bullet trains. GO AND REGISTER TO VOTE!” the party said.

In an interview, NRZ spokesperson Martin Banda said safety is a “priority for both workers and travelers” adding that the locomotives have always been serviced and are safe. Nehanda Radio

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