NRZ courts private players to boost capacity

Source: NRZ courts private players to boost capacity – The Southern Eye

THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is set to partner private players who will bring in locomotives and wagons to augment its rolling stock in a bid to enhance the parastatal’s capacity in the face of increasing demand for its services.

Three companies have already expressed interest in the initiative and will come on board from January 1, 2024, which will ease pressure on the roads as well as generate additional revenue for the rail parastatal, NRZ general manager Respina Zinyanduko said yesterday.

The move will also see most of the bulk goods being moved by rail, resulting in the easing of congestion on the country’s major roads where a good amount of freight has been directed in the past few years.

Private capacity, to be implemented under a model known as open access, will address capacity challenges and provide an efficient bulk logistics solution to the Zimbabwean industries.

“The open access initiative will result in the formulation of tripartite arrangements whereby private players with capacity will provide locomotives and wagons to move a proportion of cargo for NRZ customers. They will pay access and administration fees to NRZ,” Zinyanduko said.

“This arrangement will result in NRZ providing timeous movement of traffic to and from the ports, thus effecting quality service and efficiency to its customers, some of whom have had to resort to road usage.”

There has, in the past few years, been a boom in the mining sector, spurred mainly by lithium, a massive coal resurgence and chrome, which has seen the NRZ courting private players while its recapitalisation exercise is being worked on.

Zinyanduko said management had recommended the idea to the NRZ board of directors chaired by Mike Madiro, which approved it.

Under the deal, the private capacity players will be restricted to using NRZ drivers and will have their locomotives and wagons serviced at the NRZ workshops, thereby creating more jobs.

“This arrangement will allow NRZ to pursue its recapitalisation initiatives while at the same time providing the much-needed reliable service to its esteemed customers,” Zinyanduko said.

NRZ is on a recovery path following years of a nose-dive in operations.

The company has in the past years failed to pay salaries and creditors, both local and foreign.

This development will, therefore, see the company improving its operations and achieving stability and growth in terms of its strategic plan document which has three stages. Last week, the rail parastatal announced that it had cleared the pension fund debt which had been outstanding for years, thus affecting both serving and retired employees.

NRZ has also cleared other local debts, including bank loans, and all statutory obligations as part of management’s debt clearance and business growth strategy that will see the company reclaiming its position as the logistics giant in the region.