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PPC Report on the National Railways of Zimbabwe’s Turn Around Strategy and the Harare Chitungwiza Railway [S.C 19, 2006]
Second report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport & Communications
First Session Sixth Parliament, Parliament of Zimbabwe
Presented to Parliament on June 14, 2006

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The Committee in its over sight role enquired into the activities of the parastatals that fall under the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The Committee looked into the National Railways of Zimbabwe’s turn around strategy and its plans for the Harare-Chitungwiza railway that was supposed to ply commuter trains.

The Committee toured the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) premises in Bulawayo. One of the major findings was that NRZ had diversified its business units with the thrust being to produce most of the products that the organization used in the warehouses rather than importing. Some of the set backs were that NRZ was being crippled by theft and vandalism of the signaling and the telecommunications infrastructure, and unpaid inter-parastatal debts. Despite the challenges, the organization showed that it was on the path to recovery. Both management and workers indicated a willingness to implement the turn around strategy that was being steered on by the Secretary of Transport and Communications. It is important to note that management and employees have their reservations about the issue of concessioning that was muted by the Minister of Finance, Dr H. Murerwa, in his 2006-2007-budget statement, that the idea might not be suitable for Zimbabwe since it had failed elsewhere. For example, in countries like Britain and Zambia, the railway authority ended up bearing the burden of the costs resulting from the exercise, as private players were not interested in the maintenance and repairing of infrastructure.

On the whole, the Committee was impressed by the sound management and the level of unity displayed at NRZ. The Committee recommends that the government helps NRZ to settle the inter - parastal debts that have accumulated over the years and facilitate the implementation of projects like the import substitution in the manufacturing and warehousing departments.

In light of the targeted sanctions that have been imposed on the government of Zimbabwe, the Committee recommends that the government should look at other avenues to make available rail infrastructure, as the cost was prohibitive due to the foreign currency required. The Committee also recommends that the government should make available funds in time before their value was eroded by inflation to facilitate proper planning. The Committee was of the view that NRZ should reconsider its plans for the Harare-Chitungwiza railway and offer it to private players on a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) System, once the restructuring was completed.

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