NRZ, Russian firm discuss supply of 100 new wagons: $10m wagons deal

THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is in discussions with a Russian wagon manufacturer, Uniwagon, for the supply of 100 new wagons under a $10 million loan facility.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Transport and Infrastructural Development Deputy Minister Engineer Michael Madanha said NRZ has already submitted its relevant documentation to the Russians pertaining the deal.

“The NRZ has also been involved in negotiations with a Russian wagon manufacturer, Uniwagon, for the supply of 100 new wagons through a $10 million facility from the Russian Export-Import Bank (Russia Exim Bank).

“The NRZ has submitted a business case on its capacity to service the loan and other relevant documentation, which the Russians are currently going through,” he said.

Eng Madanha said the parastatal has also been sourcing finance from local banks to repair locomotives and wagons as an interim measure to improve capacity and business volumes.

“To date, the organisation has secured a loan of $5 million from a local financial institution, which will be used to repair five locomotives and 200 wagons.

The requisite approvals from the board and Government are being processed. In the meantime, the organisation has so far this year overhauled 165 wagons using its own resources,” he said.

Speaking by telephone from Harare yesterday, NRZ board chairman, Mr Larry Mavima, confirmed the $10 million Russian deal.

“As NRZ, we are excited with the support that we are getting from the Ministries of Transport and Infrastructural Development, and Finance and Economic Development; negotiations on the $10 million facility for the supply of 100 new export-fit wagons with the Russians are at an advanced stage.

“And when we say the wagons are ‘export-fit’ it means they are technically and physically compliant to run on rails outside the country without causing any derailment,” he said.

If concluded, the deal would see NRZ being supplied with the new wagons under a vendor-financed arrangement by Russia EximBank.

Mr Mavima said the 100 new wagons would be earmarked for the transportation of commodities such as chrome, tobacco, maize and other several goods destined for the export market.

Last November, the Government commissioned 31 state-of-the-art wagons from China Railway Rolling Stock Company under a $2.9 million deal for the NRZ in a bold move to boost the troubled parastatal’s operational capacity.

“Including the 31 state-of-the-art wagons that were commissioned by the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development (Dr Joram Gumbo) last year, NRZ has over 3 300 wagons that are in use. But of that figure not all of them are export-fit,” said Mr Mavima.

The NRZ board and management have started implementing the firm’s turnaround strategy, which involves seeking potential investors to inject fresh capital into the company.

The parastatal requires about $400 million in the short to medium term for recapitalisation.

Last month, NRZ, which has since issued a tender that closes Tuesday next week seeking potential investors to raise the required $400 million, held a recapitalisation pre-bid conference in Bulawayo.

Over 80 investors from within the country and other countries such as South Africa, United Kingdom, Malaysia, China, Belgium, Dubai and India attended the recapitalisation pre-bid conference.

Following the pre-bid conference, some unnamed potential investors interested in the proposed $400 million recapitalisation initiative, recently undertook a voluntary due diligence inspection of the parastatal’s assets.

The prospective investors toured various NRZ installations in Bulawayo, Sawmills, Dete and Gweru to familiarise themselves with the parastatal’s operations as part of the recapitalisation bid process. — @okazunga.

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Source: The Chronicle

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