BULAWAYO, July 24 (The Source) — Struggling state-owned National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) plans to borrow $10 million from local banks to finance the overhaul of 10 locomotives this year, an official has said.
General manager, Lewis Mukwada said at the just-ended Mining, Engineering and Transport Exhibition (Mine Entra) 2017 in Bulawayo, that NRZ was failing to capitalise on opportunities due to inefficiency and unreliability attributed to the poor state of its equipment and infrastructure.
“Obsolescence and unserviceability of rolling stock severely curtails operational capacity and growth prospects for the NRZ. In 2016, the company overhauled 5 locomotives and is seeking to raise $10million from local banks to finance overhaul of 10 locomotives in 2017,” Mukwada said.
A report by the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development recently noted that out of NRZ’s fleet of 166 locomotives, only 60 were operational.
The parastatal also plans to refurbish 400 wagons this year, Mukwada added.
NRZ had lowered salary costs from $74,7 million in 2014 to $58 million in 2016 although it currently owes its workers $90 million in unpaid wages.
To compete, it also reduced average tariffs from $0.078/ton-km to $0.066/ton-km, and $0.056 for high volumes.
“We will continue to drive down costs by leveraging on technology to improve efficiency, and streamlining the organization,” said Mukwada.
Early this month, six private investors: SMH Rail Malaysia, South Africa’s Transnet, China Civil Engineering and Construction, accounting firm Crowe Horwath and SinoHydro submitted bid documents for a $400 million tender to recapitalise the parastatal.
Mukwada said NRZ will use the funds to procure 24 mainline and 10 shunt locomotives, refurbish 15 mainline and 13 shunt locomotives, procure 200 new wagons and refurbish 768 wagons, refurbish 162 coaches (9 train sets), procure various plant and equipment for maintenance support, remove 255km of track cautions and rehabilitate 280km of mainline track, replace sleepers in key yards, among other moves to revive its glory.
NRZ will also move its radio system to a microwave backbone and introduce Track Warrant System for running trains, install facing points protection system, install flashlights at 35 level crossings, upgrade ICT systems, install 22 masts for yard lighting, install new switch gear at 3 substations and replace HT feeder cables.