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NRZ in US$3,5m rolling stock revamp

by Staff reporter
10 May 2022 at 07:43hrs | Views
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has embarked on a programme to refurbish its rolling stock at a cost of US$3,5 million, in a move expected to improve efficiencies.

The project, which includes a US$2 million export-fit wagons refurbishment initiative, which began in October last year is expected to save the country millions of dollars in foreign currency.

NRZ is battling a number of challenges among them a depleted rolling stock fleet, ageing railway line and old coaches with the average life span of its wagons ranging between 40 and 60 years while the last batch of locomotives was purchased 29 years ago.

Acting public relations manager, Mr Martin Banda, said the project to rehabilitate export-fit wagons was being rolled out in batches of 200 targeting 1 000 wagons.

"A resolution was made to upgrade some of the NRZ wagons to export-fit status and this project commenced in October 2021.

Initially spares were being bought for a total batch of 1 000 wagons," he said.

"However, after the market was hit by inflation, the company decided to carry out the project in batches of 200 with a target of releasing a minimum of 20 export-fit wagons per month.

"The total project cost will be approximately US$2 million and is being funded using internally-generated funds."

The first batch of 14 wagons was released in March and Mr Banda said procurement of spares for the wagons was ongoing with the project expected to be in full swing by the middle of the second quarter of the year.

Once the project is completed, he said his organisation will do away with hired wagons.

In 2018, the organisation entered into an interim arrangement with South Africa's railways firm, Transnet, to lease 13 locomotives, 34 passenger coaches, and 200 wagons.

NRZ is also targeting the conversion of 200 wagons from vacuum to airbrake.

"This project is expected to cost approximately US$1,5 million and will be funded using internal resources," said Mr Banda.

"The railway company has completed the repairing of 100 fuel tankers to the tune of US$160 000.

"This project also commenced in October 2021 and resulted in the refurbishment of 20 tankers per month and was completed in February 2022.

"The project cost was US$160 000 and was undertaken using internally-generated funds.

"The tankers were deployed to fuel imports and will assist in generating foreign currency and reduce over reliance on other contiguous railway companies like CFM of Mozambique," said Mr Banda.

As part of efforts to keep the company going, NRZ engineering teams have also designed and manufactured a load bank, which has saved the country more than US$500 000.

"A load bank, a critical piece of equipment used in workshops to test locomotives, which under normal circumstances would have been imported as there is no local manufacturer," said Mr Banda.

"A load bank is a machine that mimics a load on wagons to test whether the loco has enough power to pull the load.

"The team used material available in the NRZ stores and from decommissioned locomotives to fashion the load bank.

"The project is an example of import substitution projects being undertaken by the NRZ mechanical engineering workshop to save the country scarce foreign currency by manufacturing equipment in-house."

Source - The Chronicle