The National Railways of Zimbabwe is opening its railway infrastructure to private players in a bid to address capacity challenges it is facing, the General Manager, Respina Zinyanduko, has revealed.

Zinyanduko said the NRZ Board chaired by Mike Madiro had approved a recommendation by management to allow private companies with the capacity to run their trains on NRZ tracks.

The open access strategy, according to Zinyanduko, will result in a tripartite arrangement where private players will provide locomotives and wagons to move cargo for NRZ customers and pay access and administration fees to the NRZ.

“This arrangement will result in NRZ providing timeous movement of traffic to and from the ports thus affecting quality service and efficiency to its customers who were resorting to road usage for a solution,” Zinyanduko said.

So far, three companies have expressed interest in the open access strategy and will come on board on 1 January 2024.

The General Manager said the initiative will ease pressure on the roads as more bulk cargo will be moved by rail while also generating income for the NRZ through access and administration fees.

“Furthermore, the private capacity players will also use NRZ drivers as well as get their locomotives and wagons serviced at the NRZ workshops thus creating employment for the country.

“This arrangement will allow NRZ to pursue its recapitalisation initiatives while at the same time providing the much-needed reliable service to its esteemed customers,” she said.

The NRZ is on a recovery path following years of nose-diving operations.

The company in the past years failed to pay salaries and other creditors, both local and foreign.

Zinyanduko said the open access initiative was a welcome development as it will see the company improving its operations and achieving stabilisation and growth in terms of its strategic plan document which has three stages.

Recently NRZ made headlines after clearing its arrears to the NRZ Contributory Pension Fund which had been outstanding for years thus affecting both serving and retired employees.

The NRZ further cleared other local debts including bank loans and all statutory obligations as part of management’s debt clearance and business growth strategy that will see the company reclaim its position as the logistics giant in the country.