Let's rehabilitate NRZ

HARARE - Under the existing law, the National  Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is the primary authority on railways in Zimbabwe. 

At a time when the NRZ is posting $4 million losses monthly, the pathetic sums of public money being expended on the railways is simply unacceptable. 

The NRZ has been at sea and unable to perform its primary function. There has been a long absence of effective railway activity in Zimbabwe. There is a pool of seasoned railway technocrats being poorly paid and doing virtually nothing. 

The NRZ has thus been handicapped in the performance of its obligations.

Lewis Mukwada, the NRZ acting general manager, told the Amos Midzi-chaired parliamentary committee yesterday that they urgently needed $10 billion for re-capitalisation as well as offsetting a $144 million debt owed to service providers and employees.

Failure to do this portends a grave shortcoming.

In terms of priorities, the government should have an appreciation of the lapses in the implementation of the various capital programmes and how they integrate into the strategic vision. It should concern the government that when the ruling party says it is prosecuting its ZimAsset economic programme, railway transport is a major economic enabler.

What is clear from where we stand is that NRZ has consistently failed to impact the economy as it should.

It should also concern the government that the envisaged emergency rehabilitation as defined by Mukwada has inexplicably become wholesale rehabilitation.

We need to completely rehabilitate all railway lines in Zimbabwe. 

The NRZ is already hemorrhaging cash, $4 million every month.  It is surprising that the concept of a viable and sustainable railway business still appears alien to the ruling party. This is a matter of grave concern.

In terms of strategic direction, a priority is the restructuring of  the railway environment as premised by ZimAsset. 

With funding, the NRZ will swim or sink as dictated by market forces rather than the will or depth of its benefactor’s resolve. 

The NRZ can compete with the road sector for business — with cars and buses for passengers and trucks for freight. It only needs to offer a competitive service, it will regain lost market share.

The average life of a railway asset is 25 years whether it is utilised or not. Thus the need to optimise infrastructure and service capacity in order for railways to be competitive cannot be over-emphasised

Our rail infrastructure is 50 years old!

If government is incapable of funding NRZ, a  private railway operator can quickly make sure that we earn every penny available because their survival depends on it.

Comments (4)

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boreholes.. - 8 July 2014

There is need of serious capital investment on the railway system and putting people with knowledge of running the railways not picking soldiers from barracks and hope we will revive this railways like what is happening now! The government must come with laws that ensure that all bulk products such as coal, and other minerals are ferried by the railways, no the state we in now that road transport has taken over the shipment of such, and that has led to the destruction of our roads and increased carnage on our roads!

mafirakurevachokwadi - 9 July 2014

The biggest problem is that government wants to monopolize business knowledge and ownership of assets. All land is now state land and productivity has gone down; all minerals are gov controlled and there is no accountability and the story goes on . What happened to the Harare- Chitungwiza rail project? Dead and buried! Are ever going to see high speed trains in Zimbabwe? Maybe in a 1000 years.

G.Timeshare - 9 July 2014

There is excess railway technological capacity in the world which needs to be brought to Zimbabwe. Countries like Japan, German, France and our very close friend China can transform our railways. Can ZANU(PF) gov start the ball rolling? Most countries are now moving forward. Whats the matter with Zimbabwe? Always on the wrong side.

T.Mhene - 9 July 2014

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