NATIONAL Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and Turkish investor Yapi Merkezi are inching closer to signing a major deal after the latter was impressed by the country’s rail infrastructure during recent a week-long tour.
If it materialises, the deal would herald the transformation of NRZ through the rehabilitation and modernisation of the country’s railway infrastructure. The Turkish company is now finalising the financial package for NRZ having collated the cost of locomotives and repairs needed to put the parastatal back on the rails.
NRZ acting general manager Mrs Respina Ziyanduko confirmed the development, saying Cabinet had already given the thumbs-up to the deal.
“We had a meeting with the Turkish investor, Yapi Merkezi, and we are quite happy with the progress. Their technical team was in the country touring our rail infrastructure and they were very pleased with what they saw.
They said they didn’t expect the rail network to be as good as it is and that it is one of the best in the region.”
Apart from just repairing the rail infrastructure, Yapi Merkezi has also indicated its intention to include the procurement of locomotives in the deal.
“During the tour, they found about 258 cautions, or what we can call rail potholes, that need to be repaired. We are now at a stage where they are doing the costing of the repairs that are needed and they also indicated that they want to procure locomotives for us as part of the deal. So they are the ones who will source the funding and provide the technical expertise that is needed. The Government has already given us the green light to enter into a contract with Yapi Merkezi, so once they finish, then we can be able to come up with terms and sign the deal.”
As part of the tour, Government officials, NRZ executives and the Yapi Merkezi team travelled to Tanzania to assess some of the work that has already been done by the company. Yapi Merkezi secured a US$1,9 billion contract to build a 422-km high-speed electric railway line in Tanzania. The company was responsible for designing and constructing the railway line.
“Yapi Merkezi is quite a big company which has done a lot of work in Africa and a team went to Tanzania to assess the project that has been done by the company there. This gives us confidence that we are entering a deal with the right partner who has a proven track record.”
Speaking during the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between NRZ and Yapi Merkezi in Turkey recently, the company’s general manager, Mr Ali Aslan Uzun, said they have the capacity to overhaul Zimbabwe’s railway network.