By Bulawayo Correspondent
FINANCE Minister Mthuli Ncube has pledged to bail out cash-strapped National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) after the national rail carrier has struggled to restore its yesteryear viability.
Recently, NRZ board chairperson Martin Dinha revealed the parastatal needs about $2 billion to recapitalise and revive its operations.
Speaking to journalists soon after touring the company’s facilities on Friday in Bulawayo, Ncube said the big chunk of the money will be directed towards fixing cargo carrying trains.
“There is great expectation from citizens about the passenger side which we know is always subsidised by the freight side.
“So, l guess in terms of economics, we have to fix the freight side first before we can really provide better services on the passenger side,” said the Minister.
Ncube said was imperative for government to support the company which played an important role in making sure that the country became a hub for transit traffic within the region.
“Citizens are always looking forward to use the train because it is an affordable service, but also we are aware of the importance of NRZ in providing employment within the city, within the region and nationally.
“So, simply as an employment provider besides being a service provider in the logistics sector, for the mineral sector, it is very critical.
“So, we as government stand ready to support NRZ in your vision and mission. We stand ready to work with you,” he said.
The minister said he is currently in talks with Indonesian investors who are interested in assisting the company procure modern equipment.
“I am pleased to have come here and the chairman has given the details of what you need in terms of wanting the government to support you in the partnership that you are trying to cover out.
“I have had three tours actually with investors from Indonesia and other areas in making sure that with the right equipment your mechanical facilities for carrying wagons are all up to scratch,” said Ncube.
The treasury boss assured the company of government’s support emphasising that the parastatal played a critical role in the country’s development.
“l was also quite impressed by how NRZ has this vision about being an interlocutor because Zimbabwe is centrally positioned, so naturally we are part of the North, South and East worth corridor,” he said.