NRZ commemorates Safety Week amid concern over dangers along railway tracks

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has expressed concern over hazardous activities often practiced by members of the public close to the railway tracks.

Speaking at the occasion to mark NRZ’s Safety Week in Bulawayo Thursday, the company board Chairperson, Martin Dinha, in a speech read on his behalf, implored government through its various agencies to protect the parastatal’s infrastructure.

“As NRZ we are concerned that most, if not all, unsafe activities around our tracks are being caused by members of the public.

“We have encountered a number of challenges in our operations such as the rail/road level crossing accidents, suicides on the track, stone throwing, vandalism, theft, illegal mining and gold panning,” said Dinha in a speech read by the board ‘s Vice Chairperson, William Dube.

Dinha said most of the company’s tracks and reserve land were now insecure as a result of activities by gold panners.

“Throughout the country, our track and reserve land is not protected at all. Illegal gold panners and miners are rampant as we witnessed in Glendale and Zvishavane areas recently.

“We continue to work with law enforcement agencies to end this scourge. We are confident we will eventually win the war, but at what cost.

“We, therefore, request your esteemed office to raise our plea with other line ministries and other government departments so that we protect our infrastructure,” he said.

The board chairperson also implored government to subsidise the company’s passenger train.

“The NRZ is a unique entity in that it is both the operator and the regulator, which is actually strategic for the country in terms of managing our infrastructure. So for us to be able to maintain our rail system and network we need a strong Government arm of support,”

“As such, we recognise the motherly assistance of the shareholder in terms of proposed capital injection being set aside for the organisation and as the board we sincerely appreciate that.

“Furthermore, our passenger services particularly the commuter trains such as the one that runs here – Luveve/ Cowdray Park, are never profit-oriented, but community and social-based. We are basically serving the community. In conjunction with ZUPCO, we request government to provide a subsidy for the commuter train service which we offer in our urban areas,” pleaded Dinha.

The safety week is running from October 9 to 14.