SOUTH AFRICA has banned Zimbabwean rail wagons from accessing their rail network as precautionary measures against derailment high risk posed by the aged locomotives which have surpassed their life spans.
The development was confirmed by National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) general manager Respina Zinyandura while answering questions before Parliament’s Transport Portfolio Committee.
“The challenge about our failure to send our wagons to South Africa is that our wagons are old,” said Zinyandura.
“Because the wagons are old, SA does not want them on their rail lines because they say they have a high risk of derailment because of their age. They do not want to risk damaging their tracks.”
The NRZ general manager however said other regional countries had not taken the same position as South Africa.
“If you look at other countries like DRC, Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique, our wagons are going all the way to these countries without any challenges,” he said.
“So, the only challenge with SA is our wagons. They say if we buy new wagons, they will allow them into SA.
“Their wagons (SA) are actually coming into Zimbabwe. Because our wagons are sub-standard, NRZ is now using SA’s wagons to carry goods to SA.”
According to the GM, although the parastatal was making gross profit over the past two years, its railway system needed new wagons as most of the its equipment had gone beyond its average life span of 40 years.
“Of the 68 main line locomotives, 14 of these were not working and the rest needed upgrading or replacement,” he said.
“Most of them have outlived their 25 years life span. Wagons have also outlived their 40-year life span and most had gone beyond 60 years.”
Government, which wholly owns the company, has not supported NRZ meaningfully with most of the money allocated in annual budgets not getting disbursed.
“Management is ashamed of going to business meetings. The company has one vehicle only for all managers. Because of transport challenges, workers spend working time playing play drafts.”