The National Railways of Zimbabwe, which almost collapsed three years ago but has since managed to cut its deficits by more than 300 percent in the past two years is to receive a major boost when it receives 13 new locomotives and spare parts valued at US$23.7 million from General Motors Corporation (GMC) of the United States next month.
GMC will also provide expertise in running and maintaining the locomotives under the project financed by the United States Agency for International Development.
The NRZ deficit which only stood at $39.7 million in 1982 rocketed to a staggering $228.3 million in 1990 before sliding down to $120 million last year and $75 million this year. Transport Minister, Dennis Norman, expects this deficit to decline to $30 million next year.
The NRZ deficit had steadily been increasing in the 1980’s because of political interference in the administration of the parastatal where key employees where hand picked by politicians and also because of tariffs that were too low to sustain the costs of running the parastatal.
The parastatal’s operations almost ground to a halt and were only saved after the government, under pressure from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, appointed a high-powered task force led by vice-President Simon Muzenda to inquire into its operations. This led to a weeding out of most of the political appointees. The new management was also given a freer hand to determine tariffs.