THE NATIONAL Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is urgently scouting for close to $40 million to finance rehabilitation projects in the short term as the state enterprise continues to rapidly deteriorate.
According to a projects report handed over to potential investor by NRZ during a Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) tour on Wednesday, the parastatal among other urgent projects is looking for $28 million for rehabilitation of an overhead catenary system between Gweru and Harare.
The project would involve running of conductors, installation of support systems among other things to allow the movement of electric locomotives and reduce fuel costs for the struggling parastatal.
The other urgent project entails the refurbishment of stabled coaches to argument the current serviceable fleet at an estimated cost of $40 000 per coach.
“Only 151 out of the total fleet of 309 coaches are in service and worse still the ones in service are now in a deplorable state,” read part of the projects report.
“The objective of the project is to rehabilitate stabled coaches to generate sufficient capacity to carry intracity and intercity passengers as well as to open new routes and increase frequency on the existing routes,” added the report.
NRZ is also looking for close to $1,4 million to purchase spares required for the refurbishment of a stabled shunt and mainline locomotives.
The once-thriving massive railway station in Bulawayo is now surrounded by rusty, smelly and run-down coaches and wagons scattered all over the place — a confirmation that the parastatal is in the doldrums.
The State railway firm currently has about 65 locomotives, 3 271 wagons, nine cabooses and 158 coaches against the optimum average requirement of 83 locomotives, 4 262 wagons, 17 cabooses and 145 coaches to run the company viably.
The decline in industry capacity has also seen a reduction in business volumes for NRZ.
In the long term, NRZ needs $2 billion to fully recover, but has been failing to attract financiers largely due to a weak balance sheet and huge debts.