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NRZ survives on coal haulage



COACHING services contributed a meagre 1% of the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)’s total revenue during the first half of 2021, while coal transportation contributed nearly half of the state-owned entity’s top-line, figures from the country’s statistical agency has shown.


A few years ago the NRZ went into an arrangement with public bus operator Zupco to ease transport woes which escalated after the government suspended private operators not working with Zupco from conducting   business.

Commuters however shunned the rail service, citing unreliability and overcrowding on coaches.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency Transport Statistics report (2018-22), the transportation of coal is the main source of revenue for the financially troubled NRZ.

The report was compiled using administrative data obtained from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Central Vehicle Registry, Zimbabwe Republic Police Statistics Department, National Railways of Zimbabwe and the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.

“In the first half of 2021, most of the revenue realised by the National Railways of Zimbabwe, was from transportation of coal (ZW$636.6 million), accounting for 38.5 percent of the total,” the report reads.

The report further shows that other goods and agricultural produce accounted for 24.4% and 22.2% of NRZ revenue during the period under review. At ZW$189 million, other minerals contributed 11.4% and coaching services had the least contributions.

The parastatal requires at least 40 more locomotives, 300 new and modern coaches and 300 wagons, for it to be able to meet some of the service requirements.

Currently, the NRZ has about 40 locomotives, but some of them are not functional, while others have outlived their lifespan of 25 years.

At its peak in the 1990s, the rail entity moved 14.4 million tonnes against an installed capacity of 18 million tonnes annually. Currently, it moves about three million tonnes annually.

The rail entity has engaged in a restructuring exercise and is trimming the number of its executives in a bid to improve operating efficiencies.

According to the government-proposed turnaround plan for the NRZ, the first phase of the deal will focus on rehabilitating existing infrastructure and not new infrastructure.

It focuses on capacitation and recapitalisation of the NRZ in terms of equipment, railway tracks, locomotives and wagons. This phase will also involve the scoping mission.

The second phase will entail extensive negotiations that will lead to financial closure.

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