Govt responsible for NRZ crisis: Workers

via Govt responsible for NRZ crisis: Workers – Southern Eye

WORKERS at the financially-troubled National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) have accused the government and some Cabinet ministers of deliberately plunging the parastatal into financial crisis through its top-heavy management structure.


They also accused the government of awarding most transport tenders to private players

The workers made the claim when they appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development chaired by Zanu PF MP for Chegutu West Dextor Nduna.

They said the railway business had been incapacitated by “some ministers who were ordering State-owned companies not to use the (NRZ), but to go for private trucks”.

The Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railway Workers’ Union (Zarwu), Railway Association of Engineers and the Railway Artisan Union (Rau) told the committee that more than 6 000 workers were wallowing in poverty due to the government’s failure to provide “policy direction to revive the company”.

“The first issue that is affecting our company is the top-heavy management where we are saying we have observed that in 1999 we had one general manager and three assistant general managers and we would move a sizeable tonnage,” Zarwu president Kamurai Moyo said.

“Currently, we have a general manager, five directors and plus or minus 6 000 employees.

We don’t want to talk about other hidden directors who are on secondment from government, but technically what is happening on the ground that the railways has plus or minus 10 directors, but is unable to move the same volume that was being moved then.”

Moyo said most NRZ managers were afraid of making “binding policy decisions”.

The workers claimed that the government had given most lucrative tenders in the Beitbridge corridor to a joint venture agreement between the State-owned railway line and a Mauritius-based group, New Limpopo Project Investments, which has an 85% stake in Bulawayo-Beitbridge Railways (BBR).

Moyo said most NRZ senior managers sat on the BBR board of directors — which should be a competitor — leaving the struggling parastatal exposed with no “dedicated leadership”.

“We don’t know whether these managers serve NRZ with dignity given that they sit on the board of a competitor at the same time they are expected to give strategic advice to NRZ,” he said.

BBR operates the private railway line between Beitbridge and Bulawayo which the workers said should be their cash cow as it had high volume of business.

BBR was formed in 1997 as a partnership with the NRZ to manage a rail concession between Beitbridge and Bulawayo.

The concession included a Build-Operate-Transfer arrangement to construct 150km of new track and upgrade 172km existing track.

Rau president Shadreck Mutara said in one of their meetings with former Transport minister Nicholas Goche, they were told that some Cabinet ministers were directing some State-owned companies not to use the railway, but opt for road.

“In our meeting with Hon Goche, he told us that some senior people in the government had instructed Hwange Colliery not to transport coal through the railway, but some selected trucks,” Mutara said.

“We find this unfortunate. We are appealing to the government to make provisions that goods are moved by railway alone and leave out the road.”