The NRZ Passenger service department is reportedly making a daily loss of $7 600, while the cargo department is also constrained by weak capacity the Chronicle reports. This was revealed by the parastatal’s board chair Mike Dinha who said:
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The burden we are carrying alone for the passenger railway is that we make a $7 600 loss daily, which is not sustainable but it’s a social service that we must provide.
As we are moving people from Emganwini to town and Luveve to town we make a loss every day but it’s a social imperative. We have to move people under Covid-19 and now there is the imperative to move people to go to work and do shopping and so forth.
As we move people from Bulawayo to Harare or Mutare, every train ride we make is making a loss.
Dinha further revealed the reason why NRZ is barely breaking even and said:
The ageing equipment was too costly to maintain with the repair of a single locomotive costing an estimated US$1 million. The company has a lot of business potential and orders from clients but we are failing, we have no capacity generally, we are at 30 percent capacity utilisation, we earn enough to service the fleet, not enough to break even.
Capitalisation is the priority, rail is an economic enabler because transport costs have to be so low for the industry to move chrome, grain, coal etc. We need 41 locomotives, 300 minimum wagons and 300 coaches.
We are barely breaking even and we continue to be in deficit and continue to be borrowing and living beyond our means. We need to change the whole path but the business is there, I must emphasise,” he added.
We have customers who need coal to be ferried to various destinations, we have chrome miners, coal miners, nickel miners and copper miners from Zambia to Zimbabwe because Zimbabwe sits on a strategic position, that’s our advantage.
NRZ in the 1980s was one of the thriving parastatals but things deteriorated over the last 3 decades with photos of people farming along the railroad signifying redundancy circulating on social media.