The renewed search for a suitor for the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is set to begin this week after the US$400 million deal with Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)-Transnet consortium fell through last year.
The NRZ board is set to meet this week to review terms of reference for the retendering process.
Once the new guidelines and timelines are approved the tendering process will begin. Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said this week’s meeting will determine the way forward.
“The NRZ board is currently working on the terms of reference for the retendering process. We are meeting sometime next week (this week) to discuss the way forward, to discuss on the timelines and when the tenders are flighted.”
Government is actively trying to revive the rail operator as it is a key enabler for industry and commerce.
Most cargo is presently being moved through road, which is a relatively expensive mode of transport.
NRZ board chairperson Mr Martin Dinha told our Harare Bureau they will be meeting Minister Matiza and Attorney-General Prince Machaya to map the way forward.
“A recent Cabinet decision directed that the recapitalisation deal be re-tendered, and the Ministry (of Transport and Infrastructural Development) wrote to NRZ detailing the processes to be done. Pursuant to this, next week (this week) the NRZ board should meet our Transport Minister, Biggie Matiza, and the Attorney-General and map the way forward.
“NRZ is a creature of legislation and a wholly Government of Zimbabwe-owned parastatal and State enterprise, naturally it is bound by Cabinet decisions and directives.”
He said the rail operator needed urgent capital injection to turn around its fortunes. Government said it was forced to cancel the US$400 million DIDG/Transnet deal after the investor failed to meet agreed timelines. DIDG had also reportedly severed ties with the South African entity, Transnet, which was a key partner to the consortium that signed the initial deal with Government, which raised legal complications.
University of Zimbabwe transport planning lecturer, Mr Smart Dumba, said Government had to tighten the tendering system to avoid inordinate delays to national projects.
“Transport is the lifeline for any economy; thus, efforts to rehabilitate and construct railway network should be highly commended. However, it is important for Government to relook at its tendering systems as some of the projects take long to be completed because of the contractors.”
In 2018, Government cancelled the Geiger tender for the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu road after the investor failed to implement the project. Geiger International had initially won the tender to rehabilitate and construct the highway — considered a major regional route — in April 2016.