NRZ operating below capacity

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.