SA firm eyes Zim railways

via SA firm eyes Zim railways – DailyNews Live 25 August 2014 by John Kachembere

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s dilapidating rail infrastructure may soon have a facelift following indications by a South African firm, Grindrod Limited (Grindrod), that it was seeking commodity contracts outside its home market.

Alan Olivier, the Grindrod chief executive last week said his company was more than ready to invest in the southern African region.

“We are looking at big projects, very capital-intensive projects in neighbouring countries. They will have to open up. Grindrod is keen to participate,” he said.

While South Africa is investing about $19,6 billion in infrastructure to boost the transportation of commodities including iron ore and coal, neighbouring countries are hampered by poor railway networks.

Olivier noted that the Durban-based Grindrod plans to invest in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia, the continent’s second-largest producer of copper.

The latest indications from Grindrod comes at a time when calls are being made by various stakeholders for government to take drastic action in an effort to save the country’s rail
transport system from extinction.

Over the past few years, the Zanu PF-led government has failed to solve the series of operational challenges that have made commuter and goods train services rare in the country.

The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) — a parastatal mandated to refurbish and services the country’s rail system — is currently saddled with a myriad of challenges ranging from a
deteriorating rail-line measuring 1 900km, aging signalling infrastructure, locomotives and wagons.

The company has 168 locomotives with the latest aged 45 years old while its life expectancy is between 20 to 25 years.  The railway company also has 8 600 wagons, of which a mere 3
500 are still in use. The wagons have also outlived their use-by date, with most now over 50 years old.

The NRZ has been getting funds from the Public Sector Investment Programme but this has been a drop in the ocean compared to its requirements.

Last month, Obert Mpofu the Transport minister told Parliament that the NRZ was making monthly losses amounting to $17 million and owed its workers $36,1 million.

The perennial loss-making entity, which used to be one of the best railway companies in southern Africa before Zimbabwe’s economic decline that started a decade ago, is seeking more
than $10 billion injection to resume normal operations.

“The $10 billion is what we need all in all but in the short term we could do with about $400 million for about three years to start normal operations,” said NRZ general manager, Lewis Mukwada.

Recently, the national railway company retrenched more than half of its workforce and its current major challenges are under-capitalisation, obsolete equipment and lack of rail-line


  • comment-avatar
    Mixed Race 8 years ago

    Bulawayo Main Railway Station is now a ghost place with many ware rooms being rented out to useless indigenous small business people who have let these rooms deteriorate to dustbins like structures
    It will take a miracle to bring our railways back to what it used to be in the seventies and eighties.When you drive along the railway line from Byo to V Falls it becomes obvious to a technically minded person that all the communication systems on the route are not functioning judging by the state of the overhead lines and some radio links.The ADC [Arial Distribution Cable] at each station is cut or it is lying on the ground indicating that communication with train drivers at these crossing places is now mainly by timing system ie when you reach station A you wait until the opposite direction train arrives before you leave for the other direction.We are back in the eighteenth or nineteenth century when trains were first developed.

    • comment-avatar
      Petal 8 years ago

      Very sad . everything these people in positions of power touch turn into charcoal. One of the best railsystems in the continent destroyed.

  • comment-avatar
    roving ambassador. 8 years ago

    There is total lack of commitment from the powers that be to upgrade the infrastructure. The task is now so overwhelming the idiots have just given up. its far much easier to loot the left overs.
    I cry for Zimbabwe.

  • comment-avatar
    Umwrong 8 years ago

    Rhodesia took care of business, that’s for sure. These are Rhodesian services that are still running!

  • comment-avatar
    avenger/revenger 8 years ago

    Mbeki’s deafening silent diplomacy was cunningly crafted to advantage zumaland big bizniz. !!!!!!!

  • comment-avatar

    Look at the number of grabby hands that will need to be greased to make it happen!

    But wouldn’t it be wonderful to get on a train and be free from the uncouth Kombi crews and The POLICE . Trains are a safer mode of travel.

  • comment-avatar

    Like everything else in this once beautiful country – “used to be the best in Southern Africa” until these thieving useless greedy savages got their filthy paws on it all. Well done Bob The Sod yet another of your stuff ups

  • comment-avatar
    gorongoza 8 years ago

    so all the equipment thay have was left by Rhodies many yeras go? What has Mugabe and his team doing for 34 years? zvonyadzisa izvi!

  • comment-avatar
    bruce koffe 8 years ago

    Anything that,Mugabe and ZANU PF touches rots. look at the economy, the country, the agricultural sector when Denis Norman was Minister of Agriculture, there was food. When Dr. Stamps was Minister, health was better. When Gubby was Chief Justice there was law, After Chidyausiku took over no justice system. Shame

  • comment-avatar

    In 1980 the NRZ had enough spares and equipment in reserve to take it for years. In one of my earlier contributions I mentioned that most of the spare rail tracks were sold to Zambia and Mozambique. Ballast used to be in abundance in Somabhula where it was stored. Then the looting started. The catering department used to order food stuff for its canteens that ended up in peoples houses. I can still remember the Railway meat pies that were sold at the main station. I’ve eaten a lot of pies in the UK and South Africa but the standard of the railway pies were only second to maybe Dibella’s. The canteen late closed and was leased to an individual who was making a killing, selling food even to the Railways for their crews on delayed trains. Talk about selling your car and using the money to pay transport cost to get to work with the same car you sold.

  • comment-avatar
    Straight Shooter 8 years ago

    You voted overwhelmingly for these thieving gukurahundi savages in 1980; you have to come out openly and apologise profusely for your stupid tribalism. You are equally culpable!!

  • comment-avatar

    It’s interesting to read that the latest locomotive is 45years old. Even the former Salisbury United Omnibus Company buses have all been grounded. What has Bob and his ZPF party done since 1980. I know they created Siyaso industry in Mbare and Mbudzi. Nothing really serious. Maybe Grindrod can save us since they realised that the country is now in the intensive care unit. Just waiting for the life support to be switched off.

  • comment-avatar

    great use of vocabulary in the piece, it actually
    did help when i was reading

  • comment-avatar

    The environmental science and technology endnote short article is absolutely the most effective i’ve
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  • comment-avatar

    One of the brilliant pieces i’ve read this week.

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    The earphone foam short article is absolutely the best
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