Vagrants burn 21 National Railways of Zimbabwe wagons

THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has blamed vagrants for allegedly causing the fire which burnt and destroyed the parastatal’s 21 wagons in Bulawayo last week.

NRZ spokesperson, Nyasha Maravanyika, yesterday said the wagons were burnt after suspected vagrants lit a fire to warm themselves up and left it unattended on June 7.

“What we suspect is that there are vagrants who were taking shelter in our coaches and in the process they made fire which then spread and destroyed 21 of our wagons. The wagons were stationed and unused and they were in four rail roads. There were no injuries sustained,” he said.

He said the NRZ was still assessing the cost of the damage.

“We have not yet evaluated the damage but our engineers are still working on that. However, we have decided to increase security personnel at the station so as to prevent these vagrants from taking shelter into our wagons and even erecting a perimeter fence or barricade to prevent people from crossing through the station. We have noticed that people walk through the area and this is not safe for operations.”

Several unused wagons have remained dumped at the railway station yard for many years, as the NRZ seeks close to $700 million to recapitalise, refurbish the railway track and locomotives, some of which need to be replaced to turn around the parastatal’s fortunes.

Last month, government scrapped duty on the importation of locomotive spares in a bid to revive the cash-strapped parastatal after board chairman, Larry Mavhima, told Parliament that out of a fleet of 283 passenger coaches for different classes, only 106 were in use but in a bad state.

Last week 10 potential NRZ investors inspected the parastatal’s assets in Bulawayo, Sawmills, Dete and Gweru to familiarise with the organisation as the proposed recapitalisation programme gathers momentum.

Maravanyika said while the due diligence visit was a continuation of the pre-bid process, the visit was voluntary.

“The visit by the investors on what was essentially an optional exercise shows the seriousness they are taking the NRZ recapitalisation project,” he said.

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Source: NewsDay

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