HARARE – Millers and officials at the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) are pointing fingers at each other over the inordinate delays in transporting wheat into the country to avert shortages of bread.
While millers, through the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ), have secured enough wheat for the festive season — with the help of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe — there have been delays in transporting it into the country.
GMAZ alleges that the rail operator is battling to move the shipment due to logistical and operational challenges at NRZ.
The association claims that the NRZ is moving between 15 to 20 wagons a day against a requirement of 60 wagons daily needed to normalise the flour and bread situation in the country.
But the parastatal’s public relations manager Nyasha Maravanyika said the NRZ is not responsible for the delays.
To the contrary, he said millers were delaying off-loading wheat laden wagons delivered to their premises resulting in them spending days stabled in sidings and this has resulted in delays in returning wagons to Beira, Mozambique to collect more wheat.
“At present, millers are holding on to about 200 wagons at their private sidings in Harare, which they have not off-loaded, creating bottlenecks in the transportation of wheat from Beira,” said Maravanyika.
“Handling facilities at Beira are able to load 25 wagons a day but on November 8, 2018, only 13 wagons were loaded at the port due to a shortage of wagons,” he added.
Maravanyika appealed to millers to timeously off-load the wagons within the shortest possible time so that they are returned to Mozambique to collect more wheat.
“If millers off-load wagons timeously, the NRZ would be able to clear the balance of 25 410 tonnes of wheat at Beira awaiting transportation into the country,” he said.
The NRZ spokesperson said the parastatal has moved a cumulative 570 wagons of wheat to millers in the country between October 1 and November 8, 2018 which translates to a total of 20 800 tonnes of wheat.
He said at present, there are 15 wagons at Machipanda and 30 at Forbes in Mutare carrying wheat which are awaiting delivery into the country and of these wagons, 39 were expected to be delivered to millers by end of this week.
NRZ has reverted to collecting wheat from the interchange point at Machipanda after the Mozambican rail authority indicated that it now has enough locomotives to move wagons from Beira to the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique from where the NRZ takes over the load.