TRANSPORT minister Joram Gumbo (pictured) told Senate that the situation at the comatose National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) had worsened, making it difficult to attract investors and resuscitate it.
BY VENERANDA LANGA/BLESSED MHLANGA
Gumbo said NRZ operations have been on a downward spiral for years now.
“Just yesterday (Wednesday) we presented a paper to Cabinet to look at options to resuscitate NRZ, but the problem is that their books are very bad to the extent it is difficult to attract partners, but we are negotiating with different companies for partnership,” he said.
Gumbo said the poor performance by NRZ was contributing to the dilapidation of roads in the country as heavy goods were carried by road instead of rail.
He said one of the problems that affected NRZ was overstaffing, where they used to have 20 000 employees, which dropped to 12 000 in 1990 before the current idle 5 000.
Gumbo also told the Senate that government would not compensate vehicles damaged by potholes, adding it was the duty of vehicle owners to insure their vehicles.
The Transport minister recently told journalists that the death of NRZ has forced transporters to move heavy loads such as granite stone, coal and raw minerals by road.
“When we construct roads it is done in such a way that some roads are only meant for light vehicles and medium toll vehicles like the Harare Bindura road, but that road is now being used by trucks which carry up to 50 tonnes of black granite stones and this is now destroying the road. The point is that rail, which is supposed to provide transport for such heavy stones is not working properly and, therefore, people are forced to use the road,” Gumbo said.
Government has come under fire over allegations that Gumbo’s ministry was allowing the construction of substandard roads, with most falling apart inside five years amid corruption accusations.
NRZ board chairman, Larry Mavhima, backed Gumbo saying that the viability of the parastatal was vital to road maintenance and durability.
“We have to access funding so that we turn around the fortunes of NRZ and allow it to play its role in reliving the burden of the toll brought by heavy trucks on our roads, unfortunately before we are capitalised transporters will continue using road,” he said.