NRZ revises deal with Chinese firm

> Masimba Gomo

Bulawayo – International tourist arrivals into Africa for the first eight months to September 2015 tumbled 5 percent owing to political instability, endemics and civil strife in some countries.

NRZ only paid US$2,9 million to CNRRS which is 10 percent of the total amount required for the deal to take off.

“The deal was initially for the supply of locomotives and we had paid US$2,9 million which about 10 percent of the total amount leaving a balance which is way beyond our ability,” NRZ acting general manager Lewis Mukwada told The Southern Times.

“We failed to pay the balance over the years and we had now resolved to extract value from the deposit we made that’s why we settled for wagons instead of locomotives. At the moment our priority is on wagons not locomotives.”

The initial deal was inked around 2010.

Mukwada said NRZ officials were recently in the Asian country to review the deal.

“We recently sent our team to China to arrange with the Chinese firm to build wagons. According to the Chinese company it will take seven to eight months to build the wagons from last October.

“We are now negotiating for less time because we feel the time line they gave us is too long. We need wagons as early as yesterday,” he said.

As part of the arrangement, he said, the Chinese company will build for them a prototype of the wagon which they will have a look at and approve.

“After that they will build the remainder and supply them to us,” Mukwada said.

The NRZ currently has about 70 locomotives against the optimum average requirement of 83.

A plethora of challenges are currently bedeviling the parastatal. These include capital constraints, vandalism of equipment and a limited revenue inflow which has inhibited replacement and maintenance of ageing infrastructure as well as fleet.

Some of its fleet has outlived its lifecycle with some locomotives and wagons more than four decades old.

The parastatal is one of the economic enablers in the transportation of goods and raw materials for the mining, manufacturing and agricultural industries and if it operates at full throttle it has the potential to reduce production costs resulting in low prices of goods.

Currently the NRZ is operating at between 30 and 50 percent of its capacity because of a myriad of challenges.

The NRZ is one of the 10 parastatals that the Government is currently working around the clock to revitalize through privatization and commercialization to restore viability in the next few years.

November 2015
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