Nqobile Bhebhe, email@example.com
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is in the process of scouting for potential buyers of 30 electric locomotives that used to ply the Dabuka- Harare line and is targeting South African private rail players.
Dabuka is located 15 kilometres outside of Gweru central business district along the Gweru – Bulawayo railway line.
About 313km of the route length, from Dabuka to Harare was electrified, however, the line has been vandalised and is no longer in operation.
Electric locomotives that used to run the Dabuka (Gweru)-Harare stretch have been de-commissioned because most on-track signals were vandalised. Vandalism and theft of key infrastructure within the State rail firm have been reported to be one of the key derailments in the recovery of the parastatal.
Speaking during a recently held annual general meeting in Bulawayo, the parastatal general manager, Ms Respina Zinyanduko said the organisation seeks to dispose of 30 locomotives.
She said they are targeting private rail players in South Africa indicating that they might not fetch substantial amounts.
“We have 30 electric locomotives that are idle. We need to accept that we no longer have the Dabuka-Harare line and we need to find a solution for the locomotives and wagons otherwise we are not going to salvage the scrap if we continue holding on to them,” she said.
“I always take pride in the fact that Zimbabwe was the second African country to electrify the railway system. NRZ seeks to dispose of 30 electric locos
The Dabuka-Harare line was a pride to the nation and unfortunately we were supposed to make a lot of money from that line. However, it fell to vandalism and all the electric cables were stolen and as a result the line was decommissioned.”
Ms Zinyanduko said the decommissioning of the line also resulted in decommissioning of 30 locomotives that NRZ had procured.
“Before the decommissioning of the line NRZ was paying its foreign debt and it was only after decommissioning that the assets where no longer generating any money. As the board and management, we are in the process of searching for buyers of the locomotives. We are glad that in South Africa they are opening their railways lines to private players and our hope is that we
She indicated that the organisation is aware that due to the age of the locomotives, it will not fetch substantial amounts but said it is better to dispose of them than to keep the locomotives.
The bulk freight transporter is strategic to the country’s economic development programmes as it facilitates the movement of cargo and in line with the National Development Strategy 1, NRZ is expected to play a critical role in the transportation of raw materials and finished goods.
In June, the Government signed a US$81,2 million potentially game-changing deal with India on the side-lines of the 18th Confederation of Indian Industry-Exim bank Conclave on India-Africa for the recapitalisation of NRZ.
In his 2021 annual report statement, board chairman Advocate Martin Dinha noted that the new dispensation under President Mnangagwa’s engagement and re-engagement efforts has presented several opportunities for growth which it continues to pursue.
“The outlook is positive as the shareholder has shown a new interest to support NRZ and seeks to benchmark major strides and developments towards realisation of an upper middle income economy by 2030,” reads part of the report.
He added that the critical role of NRZ as an economic enabler will entail increasing the capacity of freight from the current 2,5 million to 6,5 million tonnes by 2025 and improvement of the passenger train services.