NATIONAL RAILWAYS of Zimbabwe passenger trains take up to 20 hours to cover the distance between Harare and Bulawayo instead of eight hours, a legislator has claimed.
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE
Matabeleland South senator Bheki Sibanda told the National Assembly recently that breakdown of the railway network and the parastatal’s failure to pay salaries on time had undermined its operations.
Sibanda said the rail network which is approximately 3 000km, has only 10% under restricted speed due to neglect and, poor state of the infrastructure.
He said the book count for passenger coaches was around 320 and of these, about 50% were functional.
“This accounts for the almost total non-functionality of passenger trains,” Sibanda said.
“Where this service exists, it has awards for inefficiency and poorest time keeping. ”
He said the collapse of the passenger train service would make NRZ irrelevant for most Zimbabweans.
“Very often it takes up to 20 hours to travel between Bulawayo and Harare,” Sibanda said.
“The state of this passenger service negates one of the objectives in setting up NRZ and forces the poorer levels of our people to use more expensive and faster modes of transport.”
The senator said despite the severe financial problems NRZ was facing, the current gross asset value of the parastatal, both locally and internationally could be tens of billions of dollars.
“In South Africa alone, mining claims could easily run into billions of dollars, if these still exist,” Sibanda added.
“This underlines the potential value of the parastatal and therefore the attention that it should receive from the government, the Transport ministry and the NRZ board.
“This attention is glaringly missing. Once again this is an indictment on the government, the ministry and NRZ itself.”
The NRZ is on the brink of collapse owing to years of government neglect and the collapse of the economy.