Footsteps Through Time

Footsteps Through Time
A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls - www.zambezibookcompany.com

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Byo-Vic Falls rail ‘death trap’

THE 470km rail track between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls is now a death trap and needs a complete overhaul to the tune of $50 million as rampant vandalism is negatively affecting operations, parliamentarians were told on Monday. CHIEF REPORTER Members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development who were on a familiarisation tour of the firm’s Bulawayo facilities came face to face with the mounting problems at NRZ. The country’s rail has not been replaced since it was first installed in 1897 despite outliving its 100-year lifespan. During the tour, committee members were shown huge piles of scrap metal, stripped locomotives, trolleys, wagons and coaches that have been dumped in the yard for several years. NRZ acting general manager Lewis Mukwanda told reporters on the sidelines of the tour that new tracks needed to be laid out. “Our north line, which is the Bulawayo-Victoria Fall route, needs attention,” he said. “We need to urgently lay out new tracks and that would cost in the region of $50 million. It is our focus as the route is now a death trap.” Mukwanda said the parastatal was in the process of overhauling its security system and CCTVs would be installed at all deports. “Vandalism of equipment has been high and that is affecting operations,” he said. “We need to install CCTVs in all our yards to monitor movements of people, but priority would first be the Bulawayo-Harare route and $20 million is needed for that.” Over the years, NRZ has been forced to shut down part of its railway network due to vandalism. Most of the country’s electrified railway network has fallen prey to thieves who target overhead copper cables used on the railway network. Theft and vandalism of signal equipment has in the past caused train delays, cancellations and even derailments resulting in loss of lives. In June two passenger trains derailed along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route. The NRZ recorded another serious rail accident in Victoria Falls when a train owned by a private company in the resort town collided with a goods train killing two tourists. It later emerged that the tourists were in Victoria Falls for the wedding of Australian millionaire Peter Holmes à Court and American photographer Alissa Everett. Source: Byo-Vic Falls rail ‘death trap’ (30/07/14)

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