TRANSPORT and Infrastructural Development minister Obert Mpofu has blocked the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) from retrenching more workers saying government was engaging a number of investors to help revive the company.
Addressing journalists after touring the NRZ’s mechanical workshop yesterday, Mpofu said the company’s current staff complement was about 6 000 after more than 15 000 lost their jobs over the years.
“We were here to see what is happening,” he said.
“Since I was appointed to this ministry we have been visiting all government companies under the ministry to listen to issues raised by management and workers.
“We discussed a lot of things affecting the institution so that we take it back to its glory days when it employed 23 000 people. Now it has only 6 000. The management wanted to further retrench, but I said they should not because we are not here to see workers losing their jobs.”
Mpofu said the Development Bank of Southern Africa, among other investors, were keen on helping revive the NRZ.
“An organisation in China that constructs trains has said we should come back to them after our talks. We have already paid a deposit to them. We know that the workers are beset with hardships, but we ask them to be patient with the government as we find strategies to revive NRZ,” he said.
Mpofu said he was overwhelmed with the commitment of the board and management of the NRZ in reviving the railway company.
“They have the same vision and wish to revive the company. I left a message that if we need to succeed we should work together. It is painful to hear that 16 000 lost their jobs. We will work to ensure people get their jobs back and even surpass the 23 000 workforce,” he said.
Mpofu paid tribute to Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Eunice Sandi-Moyo for her commitment at ensuring industry is revived in Bulawayo and for attending the meeting and tour at short notice.
Moyo said the revival of industry was important as it would provide employment to children of the city.
NRZ requires at least $400 million in the short-term to improve operations and replace its archaic infrastructure, including rail tracks, communication signals and wagons, which have outlived their lifespan.
Another $2 billion is needed in the long term for it to fully recover.