NRZ boosts freight capacity

Staff Reporter

The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is making significant progress in its efforts to revitalize and modernize its operations, after procuring 107 refurbished second-hand wagons from Transnet, a South African rail, port, and pipeline company.

NRZ's Public Relations and Stakeholder Manager, Andrew Kunambura, emphasized the pivotal role of the 107 refurbished wagons in transporting minerals such as chrome and lithium across Zimbabwe.

“This initiative is a stepping stone to better railway system in Zimbabwe and also ease pressure on the road infrastructure in transporting chrome and lithium across Zimbabwe. Focusing on our capital priority projects, which include infrastructure and rolling stock, amounting to US$533 million marks a crucial step toward bridging this gap,” said Kunambura.

Kunambura highlighted the proactive efforts by NRZ's engineering team, who recently conducted a visit to South Africa to assess locomotive procurement options. He emphasized their role in making recommendations crucial to the acquisition process.

“These initiatives encompass not only locomotive refurbishment but also the construction of a new railway line stretching from Beitbridge to Harare, aimed at bolstering transportation infrastructure and enhancing mineral logistics. Such partnerships underscore NRZ's commitment to modernization and efficiency within Zimbabwe's railway network, signalling a positive trajectory for sustainable development and economic growth in the region,” said Kunambura.

Currently, NRZ operates with 22 locomotives and 2,700 wagons, significantly below the requirement of 37 locomotives and 6,300 wagons needed to sustain optimal operations. The renewed wagons are built to endure up to 50 years with proper upkeep.

NRZ is also exploring a partnership with the University of Zimbabwe to develop innovative railway solutions through the university’s innovation hub.

According to a Scientific Survey and Strategic Focusing Unit, this enhancement will enable NRZ to increase its freight handling capacity from 2.6 million tonnes in 2020 to a projected 12.4 million tonnes per annum by 2024. This would be 85 percent above the 6.7 million tonnes per year target set for 2025 in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).

Government's efforts to resuscitate local companies are commendable, showcasing a dedicated push towards economic recovery and job creation through strategic investments and forward-thinking policies.