According to information from NRZ sources, CSR Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock Company Ltd, a subsidiary of China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation (CSR), would supply the coaches.
NRZ spokesperson Fanuel Masikati confirmed the purchase, but declined to give details saying it could jeopardise the arrangement.
“It’s true that we are arranging the purchase of coaches,” Masikati said. “I cannot give more details as that could jeopardise the deal. We once gave details of an Angolan deal and our counterparts pulled out as they were not happy.”
Masikati would not reveal the amount involved.
But sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that NRZ officials have visited the headquarters of the companies in China to “tie loose ends of the deal”.
According to the order, the ailing parastatal would get six types of coaches –– special express hard-seat coach, special express cushioned-seat coach, special express semi-cushioned berth sleeper, special express bar-coach, luggage and power generating combination coach and a commuter car.
NRZ sources say the parastatal is urgently in need of both locomotive and passenger coaches.
“At present NRZ has 168 locomotives of which only half are functional. It has 10 123 wagons, but only 5 000 are available for operations,” said the source.
The parastatal plays a major role in the transportation of goods and materials for the mining, manufacturing and agricultural industries.
Currently NRZ is operating at between 30% and 50% of its capacity because of a myriad of challenges.
In 2004, NRZ concluded other contracts with CNR of China for the supply of the locomotives, train sets and mainline coaches at a cost of US$110,4 million.
Each contract required the establishment of a letter of credit covering the total price of the equipment against which a 10% deposit would be drawn for production to begin.
NRZ paid US$2,5 million in 2006 as part of the deposit, leaving a balance of US$8,9 million.
However, the parastatal is buying coaches when workers are going for months without pay.
Last month scores of wives of the parastatal’s workers demonstrated outside the headquarters building in Bulawayo over their husbands’ unpaid salaries.