Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo confirmed the development in an interview with The Herald.
“It is true,” he said. “I am really excited. The National Railways of Zimbabwe is a very important key performance enabler to our economy. If you look at the movement of coal, mining products, agricultural produce and even passengers, it plays a critical role.
“When it is functioning well, it results in the preservation of our roads. Haulage trucks were damaging roads.”
Dr Gumbo thanked Government for taking over the NRZ debt, saying it opened the gates for investors, who all along were interested in the parastatal, but were uncomfortable with its indebtedness.
“When I made a request to warehouse the NRZ debt and Government agreed, I was relieved,” he said. “We got 88 bidders from Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Britain. The interest was high.
“I am happy SPB awarded this tender to indigenous people. Zimbabweans who have come up with own funding. If Zimbabweans who are outside the country could work together and come home and make a contribution like this to our country, I marvel at such developments. It is very good news for the country. NRZ used to employ many people.”
The other companies that were shortlisted included China Civil Engineering, Sino Hydro, Crowe Horwath & Welsa Chartered, SHM Railway of Malaysia and Croyeaux Ltd.
But the SPB awarded the $400 million NRZ capitalisation tender to a consortium comprising Transnet and the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG).
DIDG executive chairman Mr Donavan Chimhandamba, who is also the co-chair of the DIDG/Transnet Consortium confirmed the development last night.
He said they had since received communication from NRZ. “We will commence with contract negotiations as early as next week,” said Mr Chimhandamba. “We hope that within the next two months all agreements will be concluded and we can immediately commence with the major works.”
Mr Chimhandamba said DIDG and Transnet were venturing into the project as an equal partnership.
NRZ requires at least $400m recapitalisation, which include the procurement of new locomotives and resuscitation of infrastructure to increase its annual traffic volumes.
DIDG is made up of Zimbabweans in the diaspora who have pooled their financial resources. The company is made up of various economic technocrats based mainly in South Africa and overseas.
Mr Chimhandamba said they had a strong dedicated team of experts, with all the members having been involved in entrepreneurship and starting up a number of successful companies.
He said they had experience working with local, regional and international financial institutions.
Source: NRZ gets $400m lifeline (10/08/17)