THE framework agreement of the National Railways of Zimbabwe’s (NRZ) US$400 million recapitalisation tender has been signed, allowing a consortium, which won the tender, to immediately dispatch wagons and locomotives, with delivery of the first batch expected next week, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
By Hazel Ndebele
This comes after Transport minister Joram Gumbo lobbied President Emmerson Mnangagwa to grant permission for the NRZ to be issued a waiver to sign the framework agreement with the parties involved.
Negotiations between the NRZ and the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)-Transnet consortium on the framework agreement were completed in December last year. The framework agreement was supposed to be approved by cabinet, but Mnangagwa gave the nod for the deal to be signed, paving way for some wagons and locomotives to be delivered.
NRZ board chair Larry Mavima confirmed the development. “I can confirm that we have been given a waiver to sign the framework agreement which will result in immediate implementation of the deal. We are expecting equipment to come in as from February 8. Once the equipment is here we will then have an official handover at our headquarters in Bulawayo,” Mavima said.
“This is exciting and marks the beginning of the turnaround for NRZ.”
Mavima said the signatories to the framework agreement were Transnet chief executive Siyabonga Gama, DIDG executive chair Donavan Chimhandamba and himself.
The NRZ is expecting to receive 10 mainline locomotives, three shunting locomotives, 200 high-sided wagons and 34 passenger coaches. The expected day of arrival of the trains is February 10.
Ferro-chrome producer Zimasco is currently stuck with over 200 000 tonnes of ore after NRZ failed to fulfil its obligation to transport them due to a shortage of wagons.
The NRZ and Zimasco signed a deal in November last year whereby the parastatal is supposed to ferry 60 000 tonnes of chrome ore locally while also transporting ferro-chrome ore for export to Maputo, Mozambique. However, the NRZ is struggling to meet the monthly target.
According to Gumbo’s 100-day plan seen by this newspaper, the delivery of wagons and locomotives is expected to bring in a net of US$2,35 million revenue which will help ease the economic crisis.
The 100-day plan also states that there are wagons and locomotives being revamped under the internal capacity programme which will be jointly funded through the NRZ’s own resources and a loan from CBZ Bank. These are expected to be released by end of March such that they will move 30 000 tonnes, earning US$630 000 by then.