Freedom Mupanedemo-Midlands Bureau
A new fleet of locomotives, wagons and coaches should be equipping the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) by year end with the new dispensation making major strides in revamping the almost collapsed railways, NRZ board chairman Advocate Martin Dinha said yesterday.
Speaking at the commemorations of the Southern African Railway Association safety week in Gweru yesterday, Ad. Dinha said since the Second Republic took over, the NRZ was now on a major recovery path.
“The new Government administration led by President Mnangagwa is doing a tremendous job in turning around our railway transport system. Recently, we witnessed the introduction of Zupco trains to cushion commuters and the response has been overwhelming from members of the public,” he said.
Adv Dinha said the commuter railway transport, launched in Harare, will soon be rolled out to all other cities where there was a railway network.
“We launched the Zupco trains in Harare and soon we will be introducing this in Bulawayo and here in Gweru as we look to revamp our railway transport system,” he said.
NRZ has now managed to clear its salary arrears backdated to 2009.
“We have cleared all the salary areas and restructured the top management as well. We had salary arrears backdated to 2009 but we managed to clear. Our appeal however, is for the Government to waiver the requirement for the parastatal paying some statutory remittances like the Zimra for it to grow and get back on its feet. For now, we are still to get to our feet but the significant strides being made to turn around the parastatal are being noted,” he said.
The recovery was even shown by the increase in the number of accidents at railroad crossings due to an increase in rail transport movement even in areas where motorists had long forgotten there was train movement. “My message therefore to the motorists is that beware, there is an increase in rail movement under the Second republic led by President Mnangagwa as we forge ahead towards attaining the vision 2030. There is a need for our motorists to observe all road traffic rules if we are to reduce accidents,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Cde Mike Madiro, who was the guest of honour at the function, said the Government was committed to turn around the fortunes at NRZ. He however, was unhappy over high levels of vandalism on railway infrastructure by thieves and even artisanal miners burrowing under the lines. We urge all our people to guard against vandalism of such services,” he said.
NRZ traffic superintendent Mrs Nyembesi Mureri said NRZ recorded 16 accidents at rail-road crossings last year across the country while this year alone has seen 15 such accidents. “We have also recorded over 5 incidences where people with their frustrations for troubles decides to commit suicide by throwing themselves under moving trains. We have also recorded cases where people walk along the railway line while playing music on headphones,” she said.
The railway transport safety week which is commemorated annually in Southern Africa was run under the theme, Zero Compromise, Zero accident, Zero harm.