NRZ shops for steel
TROUBLED National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has floated a tender for 50 000 metric tonnes of steel as it seeks to rehabilitate part of its massive web of rotting railway lines.
The State-controlled entity floated the non-treated steel tender, which closes on September 8, 2015, through the State Procurement Board at a time when the company’s future remains precarious due to perennial losses and ballooning debt.
NRZ public relations manager, Fanuel Masikati, said the steel would be for its countrywide rehabilitation programme.
“This order is part of the company’s ongoing rehabilitation programmes throughout the country,” said Masikati who singled out the rail roader’s north line (Bulawayo-Victoria falls).
The line, which the parastatal had hoped to capitalise on through the Rail Leisure and Steam Safari rail tours, has been dogged by derailments in recent years.
NRZ’s plan to buy the steel has, however, raised eyebrows on the back of it having retrenched about 500 workers two weeks ago as the parastatal struggles to meet its obligations.
Some have also questioned the wisdom of procuring railway line steel when the company was operating old diesel locomotives that have become so unreliable that they frequently break down causing serious delays, a situation that has dented confidence.
The company, which has struggled to operate at break-even point of transporting a monthly cargo of 400 000 tonnes, is currently moving around 290 000 tonnes at a time when demand is at its record lowest as the country’s industry and agriculture, which are traditionally major users of rail transport, collapse in response to the ailing economy.