By Ebi Kesiena
South Africa has banned Zimbabwean rail wagons from its territory, citing that the old wagons stand a raise high risk of derailment.
The development was confirmed by National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) General Manager, Respina Zinyanduko while answering questions before Parliament’s Transport Portfolio Committee.
“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 challenge about our failure to send our wagons to South Africa is that our wagons are old,” said Zinyanduko
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,” she 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 the 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. 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.” She said.
Over the years, most of the rail companies which are wholly owned by the government claimed to have entered into deals with some international companies including Yapi Merkezi, a Turkish company, in a bid to recapitalize and modernise the nation’s railway system.
However, there is no notable transformation to date.