Latest News Editor's Choice

News / Local

Drones help NRZ recover stolen equipment

by Staff reporter
17 Oct 2022 at 06:05hrs | Views
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has recovered the bulk of its stolen equipment following the massive capacitation of its loss control unit in terms of human resources and acquisition of drones among other hi-tech crime detection equipment.

The parastatal recovered property worth over US$123 000 while 123 individuals were been arrested this year alone.

Over the years, acts of vandalism and theft of railway equipment have been a thorn in the flesh for the NRZ. Theft of electricity and signal equipment has also resulted in train derailments which have in some instances resulted in unnecessary loss of lives.

Between 2018 and 2019, the NRZ reportedly lost over US$3,6 million to theft and vandalism of its infrastructure.

In an interview yesterday during the Southern African Railways Association (Sara) Railway Safety Week commemorations, NRZ general manager Mrs Respina Zinyanduko said some of the acts of vandalism and theft cases are orchestrated by their employees.

"We undertook what we call culture change programmes because you find that previously, we had situations where people stole from the NRZ with the assistance of our own personnel hence we had to conduct some training on culture change," she said.

Mrs Zinyanduko said they also took their loss control officers for a refresher course for them to have an appreciation of modern and sophisticated criminal trends.

She said the use of drones has assisted in patrolling railway servitudes.

"The use of drones and other hi-tech crime detection equipment has assisted us in terms of detecting criminal acts early as well as arresting the culprits. We have also managed to avoid derailments," said Mrs Zinyanduko.

NRZ has also done a number of awareness campaigns.

"We have also realised that some of these acts of vandalism are done out of mere ignorance. During the awareness campaigns, we have also extended an amnesty to people who would have stolen our equipment," she said.

"We are happy to advise that we have achieved 98 percent in terms of recovery of stolen property and vandalism."

Mrs Zinyanduko said Government is also assisting NRZ to secure some locomotives, wagons and Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) in order to address their short-term requirements.

"We are expecting to get about seven locomotives, 315 wagons and five DMUs and from there we are going to work on the medium to long-term plans. In terms of investment, we are looking at something between US$115-US$120 million," she said.

The NRZ needs nearly US$45 million to refurbish 84 coaches and purchase 45 brand new ones to resume its passenger services, which has been suspended since 2019 following the outbreak of Covid-19. The parastatal also needs at least nine locomotives for its nine inter-city routes with four needed for the current routes.

All the NRZ locomotives have outlived their recommended lifespan of 25 years while coaches have a 40-year economic life.

The drive to revamp the company is interlinked with the overall recapitalisation efforts, which has led to the setting up of strategies that entail procurement of rolling stock including locomotives, wagons and coaches, rehabilitation and upgrading of track infrastructure.

The scope also covers upgrading of signal and communication equipment, upgrading of electrical infrastructure, upgrading of plant and equipment, upgrading of information communication technology, capacity building programmes as well as technical studies.

Meanwhile, NRZ board chairman Advocate Martin Dinha also appealed to the Government to subsidise the urban commuter train service, which will help them increase their routes.

In a speech read on his behalf by his deputy, Mr William Dube, during the Railway Safety Week commemorations, Adv Dinha said it is a global trend that commuter train transportation is a community and social service.

"Rail passenger services such as the commuter train service that we are running between the city centre and Luveve/Cowdray Park should not be profit-oriented, and this is the norm the world over. We therefore make a request to the Government to provide a subsidy for the commuter train service which we offer in our urban areas," he said.

Adv Dinha said NRZ commended Government efforts in trying to help the organisation in its turnaround recovery strategies.

"The NRZ is a unique entity in that it is both the operator and regulator which is actually strategic for the country in terms of managing our infrastructure. So, for us to be able to maintain our rail system and network, we need strong Government support, and as such we recognise the motherly assistance of the shareholder in terms of the proposed capital injection being set aside for the organisation," he said.

This year's commemorations, held under the theme, "Trains are fast but slow to stop" took place at the Cowdray Park/ Luveve Level Crossing.

Source - The Chronicle
More on: #Drone, #Nrz, #Stolen