THE Zimbabwe National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is relying on Mozambican locomotives to bring cargo into the country as its aged engines can no longer pull more loads between the Mutare and Machipanda.
This came out during the tour of NRZ premises in the eastern border city of Mutare by transport minister Joram Gumbo recently.
Gumbo was on a nationwide tour of NRZ premises to get a full appreciation of the troubled parastatal’s dire situation. NRZ has been operating below capacity for years due to underfunding, brain drain and mismanagement.
The minister was told that Mozambican locomotives were big and they can move close to 1 700 tonnes of load to Machipanda from Beira while NRZ locos can move only 800 tonnes at a given time to Mutare yard.
“Our engines are too small and they cannot move heavy loads. They can move only 800 tonnes from Machipanda to our station. Most of times we have to make arrangements with our counterparts to move the loads direct to our station,” said Engineer Lewis Mukwada.
He said they need new locomotives to improve their operations and boost business.
“Our cargo is piling in the yard because we don’t have enough locos to move it to final destinations once it arrives from port. We need to move them fast to their destinations and empty the wagons,” he said.
The minister was also told that there was need to construct a new line to bypass Machipanda to Beira because of the terrain.
“The Machipanda line needs attention. It has sharp curves and moving cargo is very difficult,” he said.
Gumbo also came face to face with the reality when he toured the NRZ control room where he it was demonstrated to him that nothing in there was functional.
The control room last operated in 2011 and currently they are using manual signal and communications in the yard.
In response, Gumbo said better days were coming for NRZ after government partnered with Transnet (South Africa) and Diaspora Infrastructure Development (DIDG) to revive the parastatal.
Under the deal, DIDG and Transnet will inject $400 million towards the revival of NRZ.
The minister said under the first phase, the funding will be directed towards the repair of railway slippers, upgrading of signal, 200 wagons, 120 passenger coaches and 13 locomotives.Advertisement
“We have secured money to resuscitate NRZ. This will reduce cost of transporting goods and doing business,” said the minister.
Currently, NRZ is operating with 26 locomotives countrywide.