National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) last year moved only 3,7 million tonnes of cargo against a target of 6 million tonnes, owing to low business in the period as industry continues to underperform.
Report by Gamma Mudarikiri
NRZ public relations manager Fanuel Masikati told businessdigest this week that because business was operating below capacity, this had resulted in the parastatal moving 2,3 million tonnes less
than that required for it to break even.
Masikati said despite business being low at the beginning of this year, NRZ was still targeting to move six million tonnes of cargo this year.
This was however dependent on the recovery of industry.
The cash-strapped NRZ is battling with viability challenges and requires at least US$400 million in the short-term to improve operations and replace its archaic infrastructure, including railway tracks, telecommunication signals and wagons which have outlived their lifespan.
In the long term, NRZ needs US$2 billion to fully recover.
As part of efforts to recapitalise, NRZ in 2009 ordered 16 locomotives worth US$30 million from a Chinese company but four years down the line, it is yet to take delivery of the equipment due to failure by government to pay a balance of US$27 million.
NRZ had paid an initial US$3 million upon placement of the order.
The company is also battling to pay its employees’ salaries, with arrears backdating to last year.
To prevent financial distress from worsening, NRZ was not replacing workers who die, retire or resign.
Its workforce has declined from 9 000 when the economy dollarised in 2009, to the current headcount of just above 7 000.