By Bulawayo Correspondent
BULAWAYO: THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has embarked on an awareness campaign in schools and high-density suburbs along rail lines following serious incidences of vandalism.
The sabotage has also been targeting coaches and wagons which were recently acquired from South African rail utility, Transnet.
NRZ is leasing 34 passenger coaches, 200 wagons and 13 locomotives from Transnet as a stop gap measure under an agreement with the Diaspora Investment Development Group (DGIG/ Transnet Consortium.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.Com, NRZ public relations manager Nyasha Maravanyika said vandalism of parastatal property had reached unacceptable levels.
“In places along the Plumtree/ Bulawayo route, we have kids and other people who just find interest in just throwing stones at our trains,” said Maravanyika.
“The Botswana train has also been affected. The practice has reached a certain level which we think is not good.”
The NRZ spokesman said over the past 10-months, the company was forced to spend an estimated $150,000 on repairing coaches damaged by the stone throwing saboteurs.
“It is very expensive to re-paint and buy windows for the damaged coaches. We need an estimated of $150,000 just to repair about 10 coaches,” said Maravanyika.
The problem is said to be largely common along the Plumtree, Victoria Falls, Harare and Zvishavane routes. Other hot spots also include areas in Luveve, Cowdry Park and Ethumbane in Bulawayo.
“We have engaged the police over this issue and they have advised us to launch a campaign to conscientise the public on the need and importance of looking after state assets properly,” said Maravanyika.
“So far, we have taken our campaigns to all schools located in the suburbs mentioned above.
“We have been also educating communities in these suburbs to desist from vandalising public equipment because we understand that some of the people who are involved are community members who would be under the influence of drugs and alcohol.”
Police have apprehended a number of people over the vandalism.
“I know that police in Luveve have arrested several people in connection with the stone throwing of coaches,” said Maravanyika.
“Our security guards have also arrested some culprits and handed them over to the police. I would like to urge the public to respect state property.”