Bumper harvest to boost National Railways of Zimbabwe volumes

THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) expects to move more than one million tonnes of freight internally this year spurred by the anticipated bumper harvest.

Following the good rains Zimbabwe received in the 2016/17 summer cropping season, the Government has projected a bumper harvest of about 2.7 million tonnes of grain.

NRZ chairman Mr Larry Mavima said in an interview yesterday that while his organisation cannot reach areas with no rail network, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has approached them to transport grain in areas accessible by rail to the marketing board’s depots.

“This means increased business for NRZ during the harvesting season. So far, we do not have individuals or companies that have approached us to move grain except GMB itself,” he said.

“However, we also do not have the percentage of how many tonnes of grain we will move during the harvesting season because that is dependent on tonnes GMB will move by road.

“But throughout the year, we should move one million tonnes internally and with the expected bumper harvest, we could this year move more than that.”

Mr Mavima said NRZ as a strategic entity was clearly in a position to move cargo across all the accessible areas in the country.

Over the past 20 years, NRZ operational performance has been in the negative due to the prevailing economic climate that has also seen the parastatal accrue legacy debts amounting to $144 million requiring about $1.9 billion in the long-term.

NRZ has since gone onto the market seeking investors to turnaround one of the strategic State enterprises.

Last month, it emerged during a pre-bid conference held in Bulawayo with potential investors or partners that the Government has granted national project status to the recapitalisation of NRZ to the tune of $400 million through an open market tender system.

It is hoped that the required $400 million recapitalisation package will be raised in the form of either debt, equity or any creative combination.

The tender, which closes on July 4, has attracted over 80 private bidders locally as well as those from countries such as South Africa, Malaysia, Dubai, India, China, United Kingdom and Belgium.

Once the required recapitalisation funding is secured, NRZ targets to move 14 million tonnes of freight per year.

At its peak in 1998, NRZ moved 18 million tonnes of cargo.

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Source: The Chronicle

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