By Wellington Makonese
THE NATIONAL Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has commissioned two locomotives that will transport chromite from ZIMASCO in Mutorashanga to Beira in Mozambique.
The move is expected to reduce freight costs and boost foreign currency earnings.
The call for Public-Private Partnership is reaping rewards as the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)’s tripartite agreement with Sheltam of South Africa and ZIMASCO secured two locomotives specifically dedicated to transporting high-grade chromite concentrate from ZIMASCO’s Mutorashanga base to Beira.
The Locomotives will augment the NRZ fleet and improve cargo efficiency after only 45% of ZIMASCO’S stockpiled concentrate was ferried through rail to the port in the past year.
ZIMASCO Chief Executive Officer, Mr. John Musekiwa said the new arrangement is a key enabler to the company’s export target of 300 000 metric tonnes by year-end.
“We are aware that there is significant recapitalisation required for NRZ to perform optimally for us and other companies. However it is our hope that this arrangement we have put in place will provide important support to railways so that they are better able to provide us with efficient logistics that we require for our high-grade chromite concentrate for export,” he said.
Board Chairperson Advocate, Martin Dinha highlighted the significance of resuscitating the NRZ to unlock value in the mining sector.
“As clearly challenged by the Ministers of Transport, Mines and Finance to ensure that we ring-fence economic development around the mining sector, from the mining sector we go to the agriculture sector and the mining sector is a low hanging fruit,” said Advocate Dinha.
Addressing concerns over their capacity to meet companies’ logistical demands NRZ General Manager, Engineer Lewis Mukuwada said a number of rehabilitation processes including repairing fleet will be completed in earnest.
“During the course of this year we should be able to complete repairs and upgrading the tracks we should be able to add capacity per wagon from 45 tonnes to 55 tonnes, and if we are able to add the locomotives we will release from the workshops hopefully we will be able to regain some of the market share we have lost,” said Mukuwada.
The mining sector is a key driver of the economy hence the government is targeting an efficient transport system for the sector which promises to solve the country’s forex challenges.
Efforts to increase the NRZ market share in bulk (freight) business slumped from 75% to 45 largely due to inaccessibility of spares for locomotives during the COVID-19 era.
However, the NRZ revealed that the 7 locomotives currently hewed in warehouses at various stages of rehabilitation will be rolled out after spares were recently secured.
Last year ZIMASCO’S Kildonan Mutorashanga siding managed to export 204 000 metric tonnes of high-grade chromite concentrate while 160 000 metric tonnes have been moved in the first six months of this year.