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ZIMBABWEANS with the financial muscle to buy their own trains are free to use the country’s railway infrastructure to pursue the business, Transport Minister Obert Mpofu told Parliament this past week.

“I think that the policy is that, if one wants to enter into that kind of economic activity, he or she is free to do so. We can facilitate that,” Mpofu said.

He was responding to a question by Gokwe MP Dorothy Mangami who wanted to know if government was prepared to free the country’s railway system to private players.

The country’s railway systems have been a government preserve under the state owned National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).

But the once thriving parastatal has followed the now routine trend of state firms that have succumbed to the effects of a dying economy with a lot of its locomotives now redundant.

NRZ has also seen unrest among its remaining workers who have gone unpaid for months.

Faced with the hardships, government is under pressure to revive the parastatal, a situation that has seen the country’s cost of production increase as companies have turned to the more expensive road system to transport heavy cargo as the NRZ is virtually dysfunctional.

Government is also hard-pressed to ease the perennial transport woes mostly among its economically active urban populace with growing calls for the revival of the country’s railway infrastructure for cheaper use by commuters.

Mpofu said the system is open to exploitation by citizens who are ready to comply with the stipulations set by government.

“We have the BBL which is a private railway operation,” Mpofu said.

He added: “There are others who have been enquiring on that particular issue. Currently, we have had enquiries from private players to put up a railway line between Chitungwiza and Harare.

We have said they can go ahead provided they follow the accepted processes and procedures that require that kind of activity. So, welcome hon. member, we can facilitate that facility.”

Source : New Zimbabwe

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