The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is this week hosting chief executives of railway companies in the Southern Africa region, at the 2018 first board meeting of the Southern Africa Railways Association (SARA).


The board meeting will be held in Harare on Wednesday 20 June 2018, at the Monomotapa Crowne Plaza Hotel. The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Dr Joram Gumbo (MP) is expected to officially open the board meeting.


NRZ is expected to ascend to the SARA presidency at the board meeting.  Leadership of SARA is based on rotational selection of SARA President and Vice President on yearly basis, based on the criteria set in the SARA Constitution. The NRZ General Manager, Engineer Lewis Mukwada, is expected to be nominated as the SARA president, taking over from Mr Christopher Musonda, the CEO of Zambia Railways Limited.


The Zimbabwe rail giant is currently deputizing the incumbent- Zambia Railways Limited. It is also expected that the Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway (BBR) will also ascend into the SARA presidium as deputy president.


SARA, which has its headquarters in Harare, has three categories of members of the Association.  The categories are full members who are railways in SADC, associate members who are allied to railway industry and special members who are organizations or groups with vested interest in the railway industry.


SARA was formed in April 1996 in line with the SADC Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology (PTCM), Article 13.13 which stipulated the formation of Regional Associations for each transport mode.


SARA was originally formed to provide the SADC railways with a strong lobbying platform to advocate for fair surface transport competition by “levelling of the playing field” between road and rail in terms of policy and regulations.


SARA’s activities now extend beyond coordination, lobbying and advocacy to initiating and playing a leading role in the implementation of regional projects for the benefit of regional railways.


Besides board meetings, SARA members also converge during SARA conferences which offer a mixed package of presentations, exhibitions, gala dinners, golf days and immense opportunities for networking and sharing of ideas. These conferences are held in May every year and the last conference was held in South Africa from 23 to 25 May 2018.

NRZ geared for significant transformation

THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is on the verge of a new and prosperous era as it focuses on a new trajectory of recapitalisation.

The NRZ has been tasked by the Government to ensure the successful implementation of the $400 million recapitalisation project which is being undertaken in conjunction with investment partners- Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)/ Transnet Consortium.

A deal is expected to be signed at the end of June 2018.

After more than a decade of trying to source capital to replace aging equipment without success, the agreement with DIDG/Transnet presents an opportunity for NRZ to rise again to be the giant it was in the 1990s.

The onerous task to ensure a once-again prosperous NRZ is back on course is on Eng. Mukwada and his management team’s shoulders  as the organisation plots the way out of the woods to once again enable the country’s economy to thrive.

As an initial step towards the implementation of the recapitalisation project, the NRZ is leasing 13 locomotives, 200 wagons and seven locomotives from South African rail utility, Transnet, as part of the agreement with the DGIG/ Transnet Consortium.

The equipment is already making an impact on NRZ operations and its customers.

Stockpiles of chrome meant for export are being reduced as all the 200 wagons have been put to dedicated use for Chrome exports from the Zimbabwe Iron and Mining Company (Zimasco) Kildonan in Mashonaland Central and Zimasco Kwekwe to Maputo.

Implementation of the recapitalisation deal will mean NRZ will be able to gradually increase its freight tonnages from the current three million tonnes a year to its design capacity of 18 million tonnes a year.

Moving more goods by rail will have a direct impact on the economy. More companies producing bulk goods will be able to use rail which is cheaper than road transportation and the savings will be passed on to consumers in the form of reduced prices of goods.

In December 2017, the NRZ commissioned a 34.5km railway line between Nandi and Mkwasine which will help small scale sugar cane producers transport their produce at a lower cost.

The $10m project was a sign of successful collaboration between the Government, the European Union which provided the bulk of the funding under the National Sugar Adaptation Trust (NSAT) through Canelands Trust, an organisation that helps out grower sugarcane farmers in the Lowveld, Tongaat Hullets and NRZ.

The entity also oversaw the acquisition of 24 High-Sided Wagons from China in November 2016. The wagons were acquired at a cost of $2.4 million using NRZ’s own resources.

The China-made wagons have made a positive effect on NRZ as customers’ demands are allowed to be met.

The NRZ vision and focus is also tilting towards diversification and unlocking value in its vast resources to shore up its revenue base.

The NRZ has some of the biggest workshops in the country with highly skilled engineers and artisans.

The workshops are in Bulawayo and Mutare.

On a daily basis, the workshops repair NRZ locomotives or manufacture goods needed in the operation of trains. However, the workshops are not operating at full capacity which can be used to the advantage of outside organisations in need of engineering solutions.

The workshops were recently rebranded Inter-Rail-Tech to provide engineering and mining companies as well as individuals with solutions to their engineering requirements.

Opening up the workshops has meant local companies can make use of NRZ’s advanced equipment and expertise while freeing their resources to their core operations.

NRZ is also promoting domestic tourism through Rail Leisure. Rail Leisure is a unit of the Passenger Services which runs Steam Safari Trains. The trains can be chartered by individuals or run by NRZ on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.

NRZ owns buildings and land all over the country and sees potential in unlocking value of its Real Estate.

Its Real Estate portfolio is made up of 3 723 properties consisting of commercial and residential buildings as well as tracts of land strategically located throughout the country.

The NRZ is open to entering into joint ventures in land developments while offering competitive rates for building leases.

Most of the railway tracks in the country were laid in the 1960s and plans are underway to build new railway lines to cut distances and take advantage of emerging markets.

Among the planned new lines is one from Guswini on the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Line which will cut through Lupane and connect to the Bulawayo-Harare Line at Kwekwe.

Goods such as coal from Hwange going to Harare will no longer pass through Bulawayo.

Another planned line is the Lion’s Den-Kafue Line which make it shorter to transport goods bound for Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo from the northern parts of the country.

At present all rail freight to north of the country has to pass through Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.

Zimbabwe’s strategic location at the centre of Southern Africa makes the NRZ a key element in the movement of goods from the north to south.

This makes NRZ an integral part in the economic development of not only Zimbabwe but the whole of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

NRZ in 2017 marked 120 years of existence since the first train arrived in Bulawayo on November 4, 1897. It has been part and parcel of the economy since its establishment.

The recapitalisation project and other diversification initiatives being undertaken by the NRZ mean that the organisation is ready to continue playing its role as a key enabler in economic growth.

As a result of these achievements, management and other officers are slowly getting recognition for their efforts to revive the NRZ.

Recently, the General Manager, Engineer Lewis Mukwada, was recognised at the Megafest Awards where he received the Outstanding Public Service Leader of the Year award.

Kuimba Shiri

A few years ago, a steam enthusiast remarked that the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) was sitting on a gold mine with its steam trains.

He said with proper marketing, Rail Leisure could earn the organisation much needed revenue while contributing to   the country’s tourism industry through steam train excursion. Read More


The summer season is always a welcome time for Zimbabwe, whose economy is heavily reliant on agriculture.

Rains are copious during this time, providing an opportunity for farmers who rely on rain-fed agriculture to plant crops while the hot sun interspersed with rains is ideal for crop growth. Read More

NRZ Deal- Prepare for new dispensation

NRZ Deal- prepare for new dispensation

NRZ is marking its 120 years of existence with renewed optimism and confidence that it will live for another century and beyond.

The recent decision by Cabinet to approve a deal brokered with Diaspora Investment Development Group/Transnet Consortium to inject fresh capital has infused a conviction that the future of the organisation is guaranteed.

Recapitalisation of the NRZ has been on the drawing board for years but it appears the dream to turn the parastatal into a viable profit making organisation is finally becoming a reality.

NRZ management and DIDG/Transnet are now involved in negotiations to tie loose ends before the deal is finalized.

When consummated, the deal will see NRZ operational capacity improving as it will have the resources to meet demand for its services from industry.

In the 1990s, the NRZ was moving between 10.5 million and 14 million tonnes a year.

Due to deteriorating infrastructure and failure to inject capital, freight volumes declined, affecting the organisation’s performance.

The NRZ system is designed to carry 18 million tonnes of freight a year but in 2016, the organisation carried only 2.7 million tonnes.

At the time when freight volumes were high, the parastatal had 240 locomotives comprising 49 steam, 161 diesel and 30 electric. The steam and electric locos have since been decommissioned while only 60 diesel locos are in service.

In terms of wagons, in June 1996, the NRZ had 10 799 wagons of different types but at present about 3 500 are in use. The rest are in need of repairs and refurbishment.

Ten percent of the track infrastructure (about 275km) is under temporary speed restrictions and has to be rehabilitated.

The $400m to be injected by investors will be used towards repair and refurbishment of infrastructure and equipment including some of the broken down locomotives, wagons and passengers coaches.

Locos which have reached the end of their service life will be overhauled to give them an additional 10 years of service.

Seven hundred and sixty eight wagons and 162 coaches are earmarked to be refurbished using part of the $400million.

In addition, the money will also be used to buy 24 new mainline locomotives and 10 shunt locomotives. The track will be rehabilitated to remove speed restrictions thus ensuring faster movement of goods and passengers.

Once the initial $400 million is injected, the drive towards operational capacity for the NRZ will start in earnest thus asserting the organisation to reclaim its position as the preferred mover of bulk commodities.


DIDG/Transnet Consortium was selected after a rigorous exercise which included a pre-bid conference attended by representatives of more than 80 local, regional and international companies.

Six companies were later shortlisted as having met the bid requirements with DIDG/Transnet consortium emerging the eventual winner.


Rail Transformation Underway

The NRZ is implementing an action programme that will alter the way Zimbabwe’s Railways do business, and prepare the organisation to face today’s challenges. It is pertinent to mention that the National Railways of Zimbabwe is a vital link for all sectors of the economy, as it serves the nation through its extensive rail network, stretching over 2 760 route kilometers of 1 067mm gauge track and is a bulk carrier of both freight and passengers.It is in the same vein that far-reaching changes are envisaged and tomorrow’s railways will focus more than ever before on meeting the demands and growing expectations of its customers. This is the essential element in a common vision shared by the NRZ Board, management, employees as well as its shareholder, the Government. A well run Railways will be efficient, extremely safe and kind to the environment.


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NRZ Concerned With The Increase In Rail/Road Level Crossing Accidents And Suicidal Cases

The National Railways of Zimbabwe regrets to advise that six (6) people were injured when a Nissan Caravan motor vehicle rammed onto a passenger train which was travelling from Chinhoyi to Harare at 0945 hours on Tuesday 24 March 2015 at Banket level crossing.  The injured people were ferried to Banket Hospital where they were treated and discharged.We have observed with concern, the disturbing and increasing incidences of rail/road level crossing accidents, as well as suicidal cases along the railway system countrywide in recent weeks and months.  It is saddening to note that the accidents continue to occur at rail/road level crossings and undesignated rail level crossings, despite the fact that all drivers of both light and heavy vehicles are aware of the need to exercise extreme caution, whenever they are approaching rail/road level crossings, throughout the country.


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