Railway infrastructure worth US$3,6 million destroyed and stolen
The troubled National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has revealed that vandals and thieves destroyed and stole railway infrastructure worth US$3,6 million in the last five years.
The parastatal is failing to fully operate due to wagons and machines that are archaic and have outlived their lifespan.
NRZ general manager Respina Zinyanduko on Monday appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport to speak on the performance of the rail parastatal.
She stated that the organisation was facing huge challenges due to outdated infrastructure.
Zinyanduko added that railway infrastructure worth US$3,6 million had been stolen in the last five years.
She said that the criminals included gold panners.
”Vandals and thieves destroyed and stole railway infrastructure worth US$ 3,6 million in the last five years, with growing destruction largely driven by gold panners,” she said.
“All NRZ equipment has outlived their economic lifespan and need either overhaul or total replacement.
“Lack of recapitalisation in both equipment and infrastructure has affected the company’s performance, which has seen business volumes coming down from the 12 million tonnes it used to move annually in the 1990s to the current level of 2,3 million tonnes.
“As a result, the company has been continuously posting losses annually and is saddled in debts, both local and foreign. This creates bottlenecks as well as increases the interchange bill for NRZ which is payable in foreign currency due to the long periods the wagons will be on NRZ lines,” Zinyanduko said.
She said lack of recapitalisation had affected NRZ’s overall performance.
“There are low customer confidence levels due to extended transit delays and inconsistencies in service delivery, and shortages of local empties for chrome ore, coal, clinker and limestone movement.
“The hired locomotives are a huge drain to the NRZ and the country as these are paid for in hard currency, yet the majority of the traffic that is hauled is paid for in local currency,” she noted.
Zinyanduko added: “The NRZ has been posting Operating surpluses for the last 3 years. However, this surplus is diluted by the conversion losses being incurred on foreign loans which the Government had pledged to take overflowing the promulgation of the Railways Amendment Act number 19 of 1997.”