ZITF: Awarding NRZ evidence of mediocrity

Posted on April 30, 2012 | Category: Politics; Business, Sport



The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) on Friday lined up to pick up a prize at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
There was a muffled cheer from the crowd when NRZ was mentioned as one of the winners for its display at the trade fair as residents of Bulawayo and industrialists present could not miss the irony of awarding a medal to this hugely incapacitated parastatal.

The awarding of the prize to NRZ, albeit just for the displays at its stand, dramatised the parlous state of the trade fair; how it has become very easy for flops to mount the winners podium.

The NRZs poor state of health is well-documented. At the beginning of the year, rail workers went on strike to press for outstanding salaries and allowances.

The staff are still owed thousands of dollars because NRZ has no capacity to pay as it is making monumental losses.

It was reported early this year that it was generating $7,5 million per month yet its expenses were over $10 million.

The medal winners locomotives and rolling stock are antiquated to the extent that a train driver has to stick an arm out through the window to measure the speed of the train.

Three hundred kilometres of copper cables on the once-electrified Harare to Gweru line have been stolen.

Cellphones have replaced signalling equipment. The parlous state of the railways is dramatised by the sight of huge haulage trucks moving coal on an 800km journey from Hwange to industry in Harare.

At the last officious disclosure, we were told that NRZ required at least $400 million to recapitalise.
The government does not have this kind of money. The countrys rolling stock is grinding to a halt and with it prospects of industrial recovery in the country do not look very promising.

The NRZ is a very sick parastatal, which has been in the infirmary for over a decade now where it has shared the ward with other intensive care patients, Zesa and Air Zimbabwe.

NRZ does not appear to be leaving the hospital soon. Successive Transport ministers have been making hospital visits and seeing the condition of the patient continue to deteriorate.

On Friday, the patient was wheeled from hospital to pick up a prize for putting up a good show. The parastatal from its lofty perch at the trade fair cannot be called to duty to perform the critical task of hauling coal, which is required to fire the furnaces at Zimsteel in Kwekwe or cure tobacco in the northern part of the country.

This will be akin to asking the patient to be taken off life support machinery in order to run a marathon.

That this sick man of Zimbabwes industry was fted as a winner on Saturday should be a huge embarrassment to organisers of the exhibition. NRZ was among winners because the quality of exhibitors at the fair was poor.

We had electric trains 25 years ago, and now we are almost back to steam locomotives and this is celebrated as success!

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