Bulawayo: Government has availed US$11 million to the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) against the US$2 billion it requires to rehabilitate its ageing infrastructure, Transport, Communications and Infrastructure Development minister Nicholas Goche has said. Goche told journalists on the sidelines of a NRZ stakeholder’s conference held in Bulawayo on Wednesday that government had only managed to avail US$11 million out of the US$15 million allocation to the troubled parastatal.
He said the rehabilitation of the NRZ infrastructure was necessary in order to accommodate and facilitate the promotion of trade in the Southern African Development Community and Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa region.
“As a shareholder, the government is committed in supporting NRZ’s rehabilitation programme. This year, government allocated US$15 million and so far US$11 million has since been disbursed towards railway infrastructural rehabilitation,” Goche said. "The funding is not enough since the NRZ requires nearly US$2 billion over a period of 10 years for its long term total rehabilitation programme of the railway infrastructure.”
He said in the short to medium-term, US$395 million was needed to restore the infrastructure to acceptable levels of safety and service delivery,” he added.
NRZ, like other state parastatals, is facing numerous problems, stemming from lack of funds to import spare parts and improve services. Most of NRZ diesel and electrical locomotives are out of service while passenger and freight services are constantly cancelled. Other challenges facing the company include the widespread collapse of the rail infrastructure, vandalised communication equipment and dilapidated yard facilities.