Home » General » Don’t Bury NRZ

LAST week, disgruntled National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) employees took to the streets, demanding their outstanding salaries. The workers have not been paid for nearly a year now.

The strike action should jolt Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister, Obert Mpofu, who, since his appointment to the ministry last year, has been promising to reverse the deteriorating situation at NRZ.

Mpofu’s words, sweet as they might have been to the ear, have taken far too long to translate into action.

All this inaction has achived so far is to nourish desires.

The need to resuscitate the country’s rail operator can, however, not be over-emphasised.

Rail transport is the cheapest mode of transport available for a landlocked country such as ours. It should thus help lower the cost of production and play a major part in making the local industry competitive.

A cursory look at Zimbabwe’s rail system shows that the NRZ’s extensive network passes through industrial areas which means that it should be moving raw materials and finished goods cheaply from one point to the other.

Notwithstanding the huge capital injection required, there seems to be a lukewarm approach towards reviving the parastatal, raising questions about the sincerity of the country’s bureaucrats.

This further raises questions and theories about the role of influential haulage truck owners in frustrating efforts to revive NRZ as well as their role in bringing it down.

It is quite obvious that a revived NRZ will spell doom for the haulage truck operators who are currently feeding on its miseries. Is it therefore farfetched to speculate that these could be sabotaging the State-owned enterprise in order to profit from its demise?

To put our fears to rest, we challenge those in positions of authority to check on who is running transport businesses in the country that are making a killing from the demise of NRZ as well as their linkages to those in positions of influence. The enquiry can extend to include their possible influence on government policies or lack thereof.

We must not be misunderstood to be implying that NRZ should have a monopoly in the transport sector far from it.

What we are aocating for is co-existence between players in a manner that benefits the country and not this lopsided arrangement that punishes the whole economy for the benefit of an elite few.

If the fly in the ointment is government policy then that policy should be reviewed. After all we have seen government moving to reverse some of its policies before with the zeal of a child soldier. We recall instances where smart meter tenders were cancelled or re-aertised with changes made to the original tender requirements in certain instances.

Surely, the same zeal should be exercised on issues around NRZ.

It’s time that those charged with monitoring the implementation of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation go beyond rhetoric and simply demand results.

Source : Financial Gazette