NATIONAL Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) chairman, Advocate Martin Dinha, says the company is working towards transforming its operations into a modern and world-class service that caters for both inter and intra-city commuters.
The NRZ used to operate commuter trains in selected suburbs in Harare and Bulawayo as well as offering passenger service for intercity routes linking major cities before they were suspended.
The plan follows efforts by the Government to rehabilitate and overhaul NRZ so as to bring it back on viability track.
In an interview with our Bulawayo Bureau on Wednesday, NRZ board chairman Advocate Martin Dinha, said total overhaul of the NRZ was necessary if the parastatal was to impact positively on the economy and contribute to the attainment of Vision 2030.
“We want to develop a commuter system for Bulawayo and Harare to enable us to remove the various impediments that people have in terms of movement. A functional economy can only sustain itself through mass movement of people,”
“Of course, road transportation can supplement, but elsewhere a vibrant commuter system will alleviate all these problems and the pirate operators will be a thing of the past.”
Adv Dinha said given its bulk transportation ability and lower cost compared to road and air transport, NRZ remains strategic to the country’s economic turnaround efforts as a key enabler in the transport and logistics front.
“We have the attention of the Government with Cabinet having recently made a decision to support us by giving us a rolling stock, that is, locomotives and wagons as well as rehabilitating the railway infrastructure,”
“Through these efforts by the Government and the Office of the President and Cabinet, as NRZ we are geared towards achieving our goal of having a modern, reliable, cheap and affordable railway system both for passenger and freight.”
Adv Dinha said NRZ requires 41 modern locomotives, 300 wagons and 300 modern coaches. The lifespan of a locomotive is 25 years and Zimbabwe last bought these in 1992.
NRZ was embracing modern technology so that it is able to compete with regional and international peers. This includes modernising the obsolete signal infrastructure and putting in air conditioning and information communication technology elements on the coaches to allow comfortable travel. The company has said it is pursuing strategic partnerships with peers from countries such as Indonesia, Turkey, Russia and China.