$450m needed to get railways back on track

The ailing National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) needs $450m in the next four years if it is to recover, says Munesushe Munodawafa, the permanent secretary in the ministry of transport and infrastructural development.

He told senior officials at a strategic planning workshop in Masvingo last week that the NRZ was operating at below 10 per cent capacity due to a collapsed network, dilapidated machinery and vandalised rail-lines.

“The carrying capacity on our railway lines is 18m tonnes per annum. The last time we almost managed to reach the total utilisation was in 1992 when the NRZ recorded 12m tonnes,” said Munodawafa.

He said government was courting two potential investors who were willing to inject the needed capital. He did not name them.

“We are hoping the deal will sail through, which will help in turning around the fortunes of the ailing parastatal,” he said. “Rail used to drive the economy and it will be a good thing for it to return to those levels to ensure economic development.”

NRZ operations were heavily affected by the 10-year economic crunch that gripped the country up to 2008. Previous reports indicated that the government was interested in getting Chinese investment for the revival of the bulk passenger and goods carrier. But so far nothing seems to have materialised.

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