Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is working on refurbishing about 400 wagons as part of its efforts to increase its fleet and meet the anticipated high demand of cargo expected to be moved by rail.
In an interview, NRZ public relations manager Mr Nyasha Maravanyika said the company has over the past two years been engaged in refurbishing its old wagons.
“We have a special project where we are refurbishing wagons so that we give them to different customers. It’s a simple case of refurbishing or overhauling some of our decommissioned wagons so as to increase our capacity.
“Since late 2016 going through to this year, our engineers have been identifying wagons which need to be refurbished and are looking at a target of around 400. Upon identifying and with resources permitting the wagons are worked on though they are not released as big fleets,” said Mr Maravanyika.
A number of players in various sectors of the country’s economy have indicated interest in moving their freight using rail, raising questions about NRZ’s capacity to meet the demand. Mr Maravanyika said apart from its refurbishment programme it was also looking forward to increasing its fleet through Public Private Partnerships and its recapitalisation programme.
“Our fleet of wagons has been very limited . . . we have put up a number of programmes in place and these include our special project, PPPs as well as the recapitalisation. In terms of PPPs we have one with Bulawayo-Beitbridge Railways where we are refurbishing wagons which the two parties (NRZ and BBR) have identified so that BBR will use on their line,” he said.
NRZ entered into an agreement to refurbish 25 of its high-sided wagons at a cost of $375 000 for use by BBR.
Mr Maravanyika said the newly acquired equipment which comprises of 13 locomotives, 200 wagons and 34 coaches under an interim solution scheme in an agreement inked by NRZ and Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group-Transnet Consortium would also “close the resource gap”.
The interim solution scheme is meant to give the firm a grip while modalities of the $400 million package are being finalised.
“The major picture is the recapitalisation project. Once the deal is signed by June, we expect to resource ourselves with various equipment so as to ensure we are effective and efficient,” said Mr Maravanyika.
He said nothing much had come out of the company’s intended PPP agreement with Sable Chemical Industries.
Sable Chemical Industries has set sights on injecting $5,3 million into a PPP with NRZ as part of efforts to improve efficiency in the movement of its products.
“We are in consultations with Sable Chemicals but nothing has been agreed on except the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding but its work in progress in terms of the PPP project,” said Mr Maravanyika.