Sunday Mail Reporter
A team of experts from Indonesia, which is angling to invest in the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), are expected in the country this month, as Government ratchets up efforts to revive the rail operator.
A US$400 million deal with the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) — which had partnered with South African state rail operator Transnet — fell through after the company reportedly failed to meet its contractual obligations.
Already, the country has tied down a deal with a Russian firm, United Wagon Company, to supply 100 wagons and 40 locomotives.
NRZ board chairperson Mr Martin Dinha told The Sunday Mail that the Indonesians intend to rehabilitate the country’s railway infrastructure.
“We had a meeting with Indonesian Ambassador to Zimbabwe (Dewa Juniarta Sastrawan) last week and we discussed the issue of rehabilitating the railway infrastructure,” he said.
“We are also expecting a team of experts that will inspect the infrastructure as well as our officials being trained under a technical cooperation assistance package.
“The plan is to begin rehabilitating (the rail infrastructure) from Mutare, as this will help the country link with the rest of the world through the port in Beira.
‘‘This also comes as we secured US$1,5 million as initial deposit for the acquisition of wagons and locomotives from Russia.
“We are now waiting for our share of allocation (of funds) from Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and once that is secured, we will acquire the locomotives.”
NRZ is a key enabler to economic growth as it moves both cargo and passengers.
The parastatal and United Wagon Company signed a Memorandum of Understanding during President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visit to Sochi, Russia, last year. The deal involves the establishment of a plant to assemble wagons and locomotives in Zimbabwe for sale to other SADC countries and the provision of rolling stock for NRZ.
NRZ is expected to have received 300 wagons from Russia over the next three years.
United Wagon Company deputy chief executive (commerce and marketing) Mr Boris Myagkov recently indicated that once the financing scheme is worked out, the company will begin manufacturing the wagons.
“Our company is the best in the world in terms of capabilities and the second biggest in the world in terms of manufacturing capacity. Our research and design institute has already designed the prototype design for Zimbabwe.
‘‘So once we settle the financing scheme we will initiate production of the first lot that will be delivered here for trial operation,” he said.