Obert Chifamba Manicaland Bureau
GOVERNMENT has allowed the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to partner a consortium of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and a South African company, Transnet, in a $400 million recapitalisation deal.
Speaking during a tour of NRZ premises in Mutare on Sunday, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said Diaspora Infrastructural Development Group (DIDG) and Transnet were coming in as partners to NRZ and Government was okay with the arrangement.
“The first phase of the recapitalisation will concentrate on rehabilitating rail sleepers, signals, wagons, coaches and many other vital infrastructures,” he said.
“There is need to bring in 200 new wagons, 120 coaches and 13 locomotives for starters. NRZ and other stakeholders here in Mutare will, therefore, need to work closely with the partners so that all these workshops that are not working to capacity can be rehabilitated with machines being repaired too.”
The tour was attended by Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Cde Monica Mutsvangwa, officials from her office, the Manicaland business community, Dangamvura legislator Cde Isau Mupfumi and NRZ workers. Minister Gumbo said rail transport was important for the country’s economy.
“For a city like Mutare, rail transport should be vibrant as it is the gateway to the sea and incoming or outgoing cargo should be expeditiously transported,” he said.
“Railway is the cheapest and most efficient mode, so this recapitalisation should be embraced by all and sundry to make sure our economy gets back to functioning normally.”
Minister Mutsvangwa echoed Dr Gumbo’s sentiments, saying the rehabilitation of railway infrastructure was enough effort to ensure live connectivity to Mozambique and eventually to the sea and other countries.
“It is in this scope that I see the recapitalisation of the railway infrastructure helping to usher in a new dimension. Eventually, this will create a favourable environment for potential investors,” she said.
“Recapitalisation of the railway system through the injection of capital has a number of positive advantages. The first immediate benefits are employment to the local people and it will also ensure the cost of transportation goes down, as more traffic will divert to rail throughout the country, while local businesses will also benefit, as they will supply materials and spares to NRZ.”
Minister Mutsvangwa added that imports and exports to neighbouring countries would also increase due to reduced transport costs, while exportable goods would be produced locally at cheaper prices before being sold at competitive prices on global markets.
“Road maintenance costs will definitely be lowered due to reduced traffic density while there will also be de-congestion of roads. There will be less heavy vehicles on our roads,” she said.