By Bulawayo Correspondent
THE first consignment of 17,000 tonnes of maize acquired by government from Tanzania to alleviate food shortages in the country arrived in Bulawayo on Friday.
Zimbabwe is in dire need of the staple food following effects of the El-Nino-induced drought.
The country has entered into an agreement with the Tanzanian government to buy 17, OOO tonnes of grain from the fellow African country.
The first consignment of 1 490 tonnes of maize arrived at the Grain Marketing Board depot in Bulawayo on Friday.
The train which transported the maize left Makambako in Tanzania on 19 September 2019.
“The first locomotive carrying 15 wagons of maize arrived in Bulawayo on Friday. The train took eight days which could have been reduced to seven days had it not been for customs related issues at Kapiri-Mposhi border post.
“These custom related issues are however being addressed,” said Nyasha Maravanyika, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) Public Relations manager in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com.
Maravanyika said efforts are already under way to make sure that the remaining shipment is transported into the country as soon as possible.
“Trains two, three, and four are at Kapiri/Mposhi with the second train expected to have departed on Friday evening. Train five is expected to arrive at Kapiri/Mposhi on Saturday,” he said.
The public relations manager said trains six and seven were already awaiting dispatch at Makambako and Vwawa.
Maravanyika said a total of 200 wagons have been dedicated towards the transportation of the grain.
“We have mobilised 170 more wagons from Tanzania-Zambia Railways (Tazara) to make sure that the maize is brought in the country as soon as possible. We are a very important logistical player in this whole programme,” he added.
Under the agreement, Tazara ferry the commodity from Makambako and Vwavwa in Tanzania and relay to Zambia Railways at Kapiri/ Mposhi.
After that, the grain is handed over to NRZ in Livingstone.
More than two million people in Zimbabwe are facing starvation after a severe drought that affected food harvests, according to the World Food Programme.