THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has realised a capacity increase of at least 30% from the time it received the first batch of wagons and locomotives from the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) and South Africa’s Transnet, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
By Hazel Ndebele
This comes as the DIDG-Transnet consortium has delivered the second batch of interim solution rolling stock bringing the number of wagons delivered to 200. A total of 151 wagons were delivered on the first batch while 11 out of 13 requested locomotives have been delivered.
The DIDG-Transnet consortium last year won the NRZ US$400 million recapitalisation tender.
In an interview on Wednesday, NRZ board chair Larry Mavima said the delivered equipment has increased cargo capacity for NRZ.
“The delivered wagons and locomotives have definitely increased capacity for the NRZ. We can now access cargo that we could previously not, I cannot give you specific numbers, but I can safely say all in all capacity has increased by 30% from where we used to be,” Mavhima said.
“We are carrying mostly chrome and coal. The chrome is being ferried from Zimasco to Beira and Maputo (Mozambique) and the coal is being ferried from Hwange to the power stations.”
According to Mavhima, at its peak NRZ carried 14 million tonnes of goods per year although the system was designed to ferry 18 million tonnes of goods per year. In 2016, NRZ ferried a mere 2,7 million tonnes.
He said according to NRZ’s projections the company will ferry between six and eight million tonnes per year from now up to year six while from year seven up to year 10 capacity should increase up to around 11 million tonnes.
DIDG executive director Donovan Chimhandamba said: “In February at the ribbon cutting we delivered seven locomotives and 151 wagons with seven passenger coaches. Since then we have delivered four more locomotives.
“That’s total to date is 11 locos, 200 wagons and seven passenger coaches.”
He said the Consortium will begin operator training for NRZ staff in order to familiarise them with the new locomotives.
“The four additional class 34 locos have already arrived to add to the fleet that can be deployed immediately with no training to NRZ operators. The remaining four locomotives are the newer and they are class 43 which NRZ is not familiar with therefore NRZ and Transnet are commencing with operator training on these locos. NRZ will not pay any fees yet on these. They will only pay after completion of training and when they have been deployed,” said Chimhandamba.
Chimhandamba also said DIDG-Transnet has also commenced with work of renovating their offices which will be in Bulawayo and should house close to 120 people.
The NRZ was established in 1897 and is headquartered in Bulawayo. The US$400 million rehabilitation programme is aimed at raising NRZ capacity from three million tonnes to 10 million tonnes per year by fixing per way, signalling and providing rolling stock.