BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) needs about $120 million for infrastructural development and a further $100 million for signaling and communication, general manager, Lewis Mukwada has said.
“Out of that $400 million (recapitalisation deal), about $120 million or so is going towards the track infrastructure itself, a further $100 million or so is going towards signaling and communication, information communication technology and so on,” he said
“Then the balance will go towards new locomotives, new wagons and rehabilitation of the existing locomotives and wagons. So… we looked at our system and then identified the critical areas where we needed to invest. That’s how we came up with that budget of $400 million,” he said.
NRZ is still pursuing the $400 million recapitalisation deal with South Africa’s Transnet and a consortium of local investors, the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group.
“We have just been given another six months to pursue the discussions further and as we talk, next week we are going to be engaging again with the consortium in further negotiations and further discussions to push the deal,” he said.
The deal, if concluded, should see investment taking place in track rehabilitation, acquisition of locomotives, wagons and information communication technology to enable the parastatal to increase freight volumes.
Commenting on the business performance so far this year, Mukwada said: “I will say perhaps going back to 2016, 2017 and 2018 — in 2016 we moved a total of 2,7 million tonnes and in 2017 we were able to improve that to 3,1 million, then we moved 3,4 million in 2018 and this year we are hoping to move something like four million tonnes.
“This is basically on the initiatives that we have been carrying in the meantime while we are pursuing the overall recapitalisation programme. There are a number of initiatives that we have been doing, for example, talking about the track, the speed restrictions in 2010 we had about 422 km cumulatively, that was under speed restrictions, but we have managed to reduce that to about 225 km through interim initiatives that we have been doing,” he added.
NRZ requires major recapitalisation to be able to boost its capacity, but in the meantime, Mukwada indicated that the company will continue to push for
improved business performance.
“In the first quarter we are still taking stock of our figures. I know it’s slightly above what we moved in 2018. But on a month-to-month, as we were monitoring January and February, we have noticed that it was above what we had moved in 2018,” he said.