The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is concerned by increasing cases of vandalism and destruction of its points machines which is disrupting train movement and can result in derailments.

Points machines are used to direct trains from one track to another at stations, sidings and transit yards.

If the machines are tampered with, there is a danger of the points failing to open or close properly resulting in wheels going off the tracks, leading to derailments.

More than 20 points machines have been vandalised since the beginning of the year.

Repairing and replacing the machines is very costly to the organisation which is being forced to divert resources for other projects to repair damage caused by a few individuals out to enrich themselves at the expense of the national interest.

The acts of vandalism are taking place in both urban and remote areas.

If a points machine is damage beyond repair, it costs up to $25 000 to replace. Most of the points machines are being damaged beyond repair as the vandals try to get the fittings inside.

The NRZ would like to appeal to members to report to the authorities when they see suspicious activity on rail infrastructure or people tampering with railway equipment.

If they are not sure that people working on rail infrastructure are not railway employees, they should report to their nearest police station.

The NRZ also appeals to scrap metal dealers to verify the source of material brought by their clients as some from the points machine are being sold to scrap metal dealers.

Members of the public are advised that tampering with power operated points has negative consequences as they can result in loss of human life due to derailments while movement of people and cargo will be delayed awaiting repair of the machines.

The NRZ has a whistle blower programme which rewards people reporting cases of vandalism to its infrastructure or who help protect railway assets.

In June, NRZ paid school fees for a Form One pupil at Entumbane Secondary School Nozipho Sibanda through the whistle blower programme after she alerted authorities of a broken railway track near Sawmills thus averting a potential derailment.





21 September 2018