Zvamaida Murwira and Samuel Kadungure
FREIGHT trains that carry grain, wheat and fertiliser from Beira, Mozambique have temporarily been affected after a National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) goods train derailed on Tuesday near Nyazura, damaging the infrastructure and leaving the line impassable
The derailment killed the driver and injured three cabin crew members.
Heavy hydraulic equipment was summoned to break the locomotive wreckage and retrieve the body of the driver of the freight train that trapped him to death at Tsungwesi in Nyazura on Tuesday afternoon.
The locomotive driver, Mr Collet Gwini, was trapped for almost 18 hours after the accident while the other three crew members were rescued and rushed to Rusape General Hospital for treatment.
NRZ spokesperson, Mr Nyasha Maravanyika said engineers were working round the clock to repair the railway line to allow traffic to pass.
“We had a train runaway on March 9, 2021, at around 1330 hours on the Harare-Mutare rail route. The train, which was carrying chrome ore destined for Beira, ran away and subsequently derailed,” said Mr Maravanyika.
He said other crew members who include two fitters and a guard were seriously injured and were rushed to Rusape Hospital before they were transferred to Harare for further management.
“We lost the driver who was trapped until Thursday morning and we commiserate with the family and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.
“A section of 150 metres of the track was damaged and our team are working on it. We expect the track to be fitted soon because this is a busy line carrying Government maize, wheat fertiliser among other important goods,” said Mr Maravanyika.
He said the train was carrying chrome ore for Zimasco and the cause of the accident was still to be established.
“The locomotives were also extensively damaged and our team are also working tirelessly to see if they could recover some products,” he said.
Mr Maravanyika said the railway utility would assist the deceased’s family with funeral expenses and foot the survivors’ medical bills.
The three are reported to be in a stable condition at a medical facility in Harare.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Deputy Minister Mike Madiro described the accident as unfortunate given that life was lost and caused injury to crew members.
“That was an unfortunate and sad incident. We are still to establish the real cause of the accident. It happened just on the boundary of Makoni South and my constituency, Mutare North,” said Deputy Minister Madiro.
The chrome-laden goods train, which had 22 wagons, was coming from Harare and heading towards Beira, Mozambique.
Two red DE6 engines leased from Sheltam, South Africa, were a total write-off, while 19 recently commissioned wagons were extensively damaged. The fine chrome dust was spilled all over the scene, while broken wheels, axles and other metal objects littered the area.
In the past there has been train derailments that have caused damage to property and in some instances claimed lives.
In 2019, six people were injured while several others sustained minor scratches after a Bulawayo bound passenger train derailed in the Dorset area of Shurugwi.
The passenger train was coming from Chikwalakwala Border Post when the incident occurred.
In 2015, a goods train transporting fertiliser and wheat from Dabuka to Harare derailed near Norton destroying part of the consignment.