Government has acquired 31 rail wagons worth $2,9 million, as it moves to recapitalise the National Railways of Zimbabwe, a Cabinet minister has said.Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo, said the recapitalisation of NRZ also included track, signalling and telecommunications infrastructure rehabilitation, re-electrification and acquisition of rolling stock.
“The estimated cost of the recapitalisation of NRZ is to be $635 million over a period of three years,” Dr Gumbo said.
He said this while addressing officers at the Joint Command and Staff (Course Number 30) on strategic issues affecting the preservation, maintenance and renewal of transportation infrastructure at the Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare recently.
Dr Gumbo said there were two rail operators in the country, the NRZ and Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway project (BBR).
He said the 320-kilometre rail route between Beitbridge and Bulawayo was constructed under a concession signed in 1998 with BBR, while the rest of the NRZ infrastructure was in dire need of upgrading.
NRZ operates an extensive rail network stretching 2 760km.
“Zimbabwe’s rail network interfaces with contiguous railways on export/import route entries at Mutare/Machipanda for Beira, Sango/Chicualacuala for Maputo, Beitbridge for South Africa, Plumtree for Botswana and Victoria Falls for Zambia and the north,” Dr Gumbo said.
He said the transport industry continually faced emerging and new challenges that were likely to influence transportation priorities and needs, particularly with regard to the preservation, maintenance and renewal of the highway infrastructure.
Dr Gumbo said inadequate budgetary allocations, such as in 2015 and 2016 could not meet the demand for rehabilitation and new infrastructure projects.
“Reduced funding means that new developments will not occur and needed maintenance and preservation activities will be reduced,” he said.
“Long term funding and financing issues will have to be addressed to ensure that infrastructure adequately serves the needs of our citizens and promotes economic development.
“The ministry, therefore, continues to engage investors for Public-Private Sector Partnerships (PPP) projects. I wish to make the point that investors sometimes have pre-conditions which at times do not meet national expectations and place a larger financial burden on the country.”