Sunday Mail Reporter
Nursing the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to health will help guarantee the quality and durability of the country’s roads as it would help ease pressure on this overburdened mode of transport, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Addressing Government officials, local authorities and engineers in Masvingo during a tour of roads in the province last week, Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said an unreliable rail transport system has led to a disproportionate flow of traffic on local roads.
“As far as rail is concerned, there are lots of opportunities in rail. We have so many suitors coming in with so many programmes. Certain loads should not move on our roads because it’s detrimental, it damages the road, so we need the rail to take over,” said Minister Matiza.
“So we are seized with these issues in terms of upgrading our rail because it is fundamental; it is a backbone of our economy. Our roads are also backbones of the economy and they have to be taken care of.”
The exclusivity agreement between Government and DIDG/Transnet Consortium – which won tender to resuscitate the ailing national railway company – expired on February 14 this year.
Essentially, an exclusivity agreement tries to ensure that the other party to a prospective deal negotiates solely with the client for a period of time.
Minister Matiza says he will soon brief Cabinet on progress in the ongoing negotiations with the rail investors.
“We have been negotiating with an outfit called DIDG/ Transnet. We had an agreement which ended on the 14th of February, which gave them exclusivity to negotiate, to recapitalise the NRZ. The issue is that we want to recapitalise our rail system so that it becomes the best in the region.
“But, however, we still have certain things to address, and I am due to present a report to Cabinet on the outcome of this framework agreement – how far we have gone and the way forward. But the passion and the thrust is to have our rail network moving,” he said.
He also expressed satisfaction on current road works on the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway, which is a key arterial road for the North-South corridor.
Government is confident that the first phase of the major project – which involves expanding and rehabilitating the existing road up to 12-metres wide – will be completed within the set three-year timeline.
“We have started now with the 10-kilometre stretch from Chivhu. . . and also the 10 kilometres from Beatrice. We have already tendered for local engineers; in fact, it has already been done.
“We are also starting now to do the tendering for our local contractors into nine segments.
Masvingo province road engineer Peter Robert Mukome said there was need for more funding for roads in the province it had 13 percent of the country’s total network.
“Our provincial road infrastructure is the fulcrum of the transport system, keeping the population connected and the economy flowing. Furthermore, the network is in a strategic location of Southern Africa and is interconnected to Mozambique, through Sango Boarder Post; South Africa, through Crooks Corner, and Beitbridge Boarder Post. It also shares boundaries with four provinces,” he said.
“The province boasts some of the oldest roads within the country, with ridding quality ranging from fair to poor due to little or no maintenance for the past 20 years. Continued under investments in our roads infrastructure over the past years have, however, significantly reduced its quality,” he said.
The post Reviving NRZ key to guaranteeing road quality: Matiza appeared first on Zimbabwe Situation.