HomeBusiness DigestSA Spoornet/NRZ to meet over debt

SA Spoornet/NRZ to meet over debt

Roadwin Chirara

SOUTH African rail operator Spoornet is scheduled to meet with the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to thrash out outstanding debt payment terms.

na, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Spoornet and the NRZ are also expected to discuss viability problems facing the Zimbabwean concern.

The NRZ is paying Spoornet R6 million monthly after failing to return wagons borrowed. Spoornet chief executive officer, Dolly Mokgatle, said the company was aware of the NRZ’s problems and was looking at ways of improving the situation.

She said it was in her company’s interests to help the NRZ out of its crisis.

“We would like to work with the NRZ to improve its operations because it is in our interest to do so as a company. However, this will not be done through the press,” said Mokgatle in an interview.

“We should sit down and sort out our relations as companies. We also have a contractual agreement and the financial terms of that cannot be disclosed.”

Operations at the cash-strapped NRZ have been severely compromised by the unavailability of sufficient locomotives.

The parastatal only has 60 usable locomotives when it needs at least 108 to operate viably.

Mokgatle said Spoornet was willing to have open discussions with the NRZ.

“We do not believe in a reaction approach,” she said. “We should have an environment to discuss with them.”

Mokgatle, who is chairperson of the regional Southern Africa Railways Association, castigated regional governments for failing to run their railways and turning to privatisation as a last resort.

“I find that governments are quick to turn to privatisation as a solution for their inefficiencies in running their railways,” said Mokgatle.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, has called for turn-around strategies for the country’s many parastatals and local authorities before they can access cheap development funds from the central bank.

Gono said the unavailability of locomotives had impacted negatively on the NRZ’s ability to return wagons to Spoornet.

“This limitation is resulting in the NRZ paying monthly interchange cost of around R6 million to Spoornet, effectively eating into the country’s limited foreign exchange resources,” Gono said.

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