Africa Moyo recently in BULAWAYO
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is working on increasing its revenue streams by expanding its property portfolio, whose revenues soared to $5,67 million last year from $3,3 million in the prior year.
NRZ has several properties dotted across the country and the company is leasing the ones it does not use.
General manager Engineer Lewis Mukwada told The Herald Business last week that NRZ had properties across the country which are mainly used for railway operations, but where there is no optimum use, they are leased out.
“The properties which are excess to requirements are leased out to the public and from these properties which are leased out, NRZ obtained revenues of $5,67 million in 2017 and is working on strategies to expand this portfolio,” said Eng Mukwada.
NRZ has been acquiring land and properties in the last 121 years it has been in existence.
The company has also used its pension fund to build some of the properties, which include the imposing Karigamombe Building in central Harare and the 114-year-old Victoria Falls Hotel.
The Victoria Falls Hotel is owned by Emerged Railway Properties, a joint venture between NRZ and Zambia Railways.
NRZ plans to turn around its operations — which have previously been bogged down by mismanagement — riding on the $400 million recapitalisation from the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) and Transnet.
The NRZ recapitalisation project involves the delivery 34 new locomotives, refurbishment of 28 locomotives, procurement of 200 new wagons and refurbishment of 768 wagons.
DIDG and Transnet have cobbled an interim solution aimed at providing 14 locomotives, 200 wagons and 34 passenger coaches given that manufacturing and supplying of new locomotives takes between 18 and 24 months.
Already, 10 locomotives have been delivered and the company is generating revenues from ferrying coal, chrome and other freight.
Once the $400 million recapitalisation fund comes in this year from the investors, the company plans to invest $245 million into rehabilitating track infrastructure, and signalling and communication systems through rehabilitation of mainline track, branch-line, yard track telecommunications, mainline signalling, facing points protection, level crossings protection, train integrity systems, yards local control and plant and equipment.
Eng Mukwada said they plan to have a more direct and shorter railway link – the Lions Den (Zimbabwe) to Kafue (Zambia) rail link – between the sea ports in Mozambique and Zambia, together with other countries in the north.
A tender for the feasibility study for this project has already been floated.
There is also a plan to construct an electrified 26km double track of the Harare-Chitungwiza urban commuter rail system to cater for travel demands for people.
Said Eng Mukwada: “Enquiries have been received for the project and NRZ is working with Government on the way forward.”
The Harare/Bindura–Moatize (Mozambique) rail link is also expected to facilitate transportation of granite blocks from Mutoko, agricultural produce from and to Zimbabwe, Malawi, via Mozambique’s Tete province.
It is understood that enquiries for this project have also been received and NRZ is now working with Government on the way forward.