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NRZ increases Freedom Train coaches in Bulawayo

by Staff reporter
21 Jan 2019 at 08:19hrs | Views
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has said it has increased Freedom Train coaches on its City-Cowdray Park route in Bulawayo, a development that will lessen the burden on the commuting public after transport operators hiked fares last week.

Transport operators increased fares from $1 to $2. NRZ public relations manager Mr Nyasha Maravanyika said the parastatal increased coaches from eight to 12. He said as of now, the NRZ is incapacitated to introduce train services on other routes in the city such as the city-Emganwini route or in other cities such as Harare.

"The number of people had increased even before the protests. We were recording as much as over 1 000 people on a trip. We had to increase our coaches. Initially we had eight coaches and we have increased them to around 11-12," said Mr Maravanyika.

He said there are plans to introduce train services on other routes but they were faced with some constraints.

"At the moment the NRZ does not have sufficient resources and our teams are working on refurbishing some of the old coaches to make sure that they are suitable for commuters' occupancy.

"It's not only Emganwini. There are cries from Harare, we have the Passenger Association of Zimbabwe making calls for a train. It's not just in Bulawayo but we have to look at the broader picture," said Mr Maravanyika.

In Harare, Government has introduced affordable buses to transport commuters. In an interview yesterday, Transport and Infrastructural Development Ministry Deputy Minister Advocate Fortune Chasi said while Zupco buses would be operating in the capital for now, Bulawayo was covered by the freedom train.

"So far in Bulawayo there is the freedom train; other cities don't have the freedom train. For the bus project we are starting in Harare and it's still work in progress. As we get more (buses) we will move to other cities. But for Bulawayo we have released all the National Railways of Zimbabwe coaches to transport the people. That is why we did not talk about buses for Bulawayo," he said.

Adv Chasi said his ministry would soon engage Bulawayo transport operators on how they can access the fuel rebate to maintain low transport fares.

"I will arrange that we come and speak to them. It's a bit difficult to explain modalities through the media because this side (in Harare) we met operators. Even us as a Government we had to have the Ministry of Finance providing us with the details. I will try to arrange that with the Ministry of Finance (and Economic Development) so that we come to Bulawayo and speak to operators," he said.

Meanwhile, Bulawayo Provincial Minister Judith Ncube said buses are also needed in the province as the freedom train does not service the whole province.

"The Minister of Transport has been approached by different people, they are actually requesting that his office should revisit that issue. Maybe he may actually be able to get back to Zupco because it is a national entity. They just have to assist the people because so many people joined the stay away not because it was by choice but there was no transport around. So I'm sure something is being done to that effect," said Ncube.


Source - chronicle

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