Posts tagged as: road

Faza Hospital Conducts First Caesarean Section

By Kalume Kazungu

Faza Sub-County hospital in Lamu East has conducted its first caesarean section operation.

The successful surgery was done on a 23 year-old first time mother from Tchgundwa village who had an obstructed labour on Wednesday.

For decades, the facility has been offering basic medical services due to infrastructural challenges.

For the past two years, however, the Lamu County government, in partnership with the national government, has equipped the hospital with modern medical equipment.

Addressing journalists in Lamu on Wednesday, Health Executive Mr Mohamed Kombo said the Sh480 million rehabilitation of the facility was now complete.

FIRST CAESERIAN SECTION

“Faza hospital started in mid 1970s. Before 2013, the facility was operating like a health centre but now we have renovated it to a fully-fledged level-four facility. In fact, today (Wednesday) we were able to conduct a successful caesarean section for the first time since independence at the facility,” said Dr Kombo.

He said most of the patients in Lamu East have always been referred to the Lamu King Fahad County Hospital in Lamu Town, which is miles away across the vast Indian Ocean.

Dr Kombo said the newly refurbished Faza Sub-County hospital will serve hundreds of locals in Faza Island and other adjacent islands in Lamu East including those at the border of Lamu with Somalia like Ishakani, Ras Kamboni, Kiunga, Mkokoni, Kiwayu and Ndau.

“For a long time, pregnant mothers in Lamu East have succumbed to childbirth related complications since the hospital wasn’t well equipped for safe deliveries. Locals now have an hospital to rush to instead of spending days on the road and ocean as they seek treatment in Lamu,” said Mr Kombo.

MEDICAL EQUIPMENT

Dr Kombo praised the national government for giving Faza Sub-County hospital equipment for Radiology, X-ray, ultrasound, operating theatre and other medical equipment worth Sh380 million on loan.

He said the county government has spent Sh100 million to upgrade the facility.

“As county government, we have invested on the operating theatre, laundry, kitchen, perimeter wall, salaries, emergency hospital generator and electrification of the entire facility,” said Dr Kombo.

Mrs Asha Bunu, a Faza resident, said the renovation of the Faza hospital was timely.

PREGNANT WOMEN

“Residents, especially pregnant women would go all the way to Lamu for ultrasound, we thank God that such services will now be available at Faza,” said Mrs Bunu.

Mr Bwanamkuu Abdalla said the upgrading of the Faza facility has come as a big relief to residents since it will save them the high charges they had to pay for speed boats to ferry patients across the Indian Ocean to Lamu Hospital.

The cheapest a speed boat would charge to ferry a patient from Lamu East to Lamu Island is Sh15,000.

“Most people here are poor and hiring a boat at Sh15,000 or Sh20,000 just to get to hospital is difficult. We have lost many mothers and babies but we are glad this will now be over with the refurbished Faza Sub County Hospital,” said Mr Abdalla.

Biziyaremye Looks to Bounce Back After Recovering From Injury

By Geoffrey Asiimwe

Last weekend, Joseph Biziyaremye made a promising return to cycling after being out of action for six months due to injury. He participated in the second race of the 2017 Rwanda Cycling Cup which was his first as he looks to return to the top of his game. The third race, dubbed ‘Race to Remember’ that will start from Ruhango town heading to Karongi district plus a circuit is slated for this Saturday.

The 29-year-old Biziyaremye was involved in a career-threatening accident while competing in the 2016 Tour du Rwanda, during the stage five ( Muhanga to Musanze) less than a kilometre to the finish line after knocking down a spectator who was trying to cross the road.

Biziyaremye had a concussion and was rushed to King Faisal Hospital in Kigali where he stayed for seven weeks receiving treatment.

The accident occurred just a day after he finished second in stage four (Rusizi-Huye) also known as ‘Nyungwe Challenge’ that was won by Joseph Areruya, who now rides for South Africa-based UCI Continental Team Dimension Data.

Last Saturday, during the Farmers’ Circuit race; Kigali to Nyagatare; the former Cine Elmay rider made his return to competitive cycling for the first time since last November, riding for Kayonza-based Muhazi Cycling Generation.

He finished in ninth place posting less than two minutes behind the winner, Jean Claude Uwizeye of Les Amis Sportifs de Rwamagana.

Uwizeye won the 152-kilomtre race using 3 hours 41 minutes and 46 seconds, while Biziyaremye posted 3 hours, 43 minutes and 22 seconds.

“I have fully recovered, and I felt strong in last week’s race after almost four weeks of training. Finishing ninth was really a great performance for me especially given than I had been out for over six months after my accident. I believe I will be much better in the next race,” he told Times Sport.

The Kamonyi-born rider was among the five cyclists that raced for the national team (Team Rwanda) during 2016 Tour du Rwanda-others were Eric Nduwayo and now retired duo of Nathan Byukusenge and Abraham Ruhumuriza..

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Residents Demonstrate Over Road

By Alex Tumuhimbise

Kakumiro — Residents in Igayaza Trading Centre along the Kakumiro-Hoima road in Birembo Sub-county, Kakumiro District have protested against the proposed diversion of the road from Igayaza Trading Centre to Kisija, which is about 2km away from the trading centre.

The trading centre is located along the Kakumiro-Buhimba road, which is among the several oil roads earmarked for tarmacking ahead of oil production in 2020 in the Albertine region.

Police from Kakumiro dispersed off a few residents last Tuesday who had been incited by some local leaders.

However, Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has down played the demonstration, saying it was unnecessary because there is no any confirmation of diverting the road yet.

An official who spoke to Daily Monitor and did not want to be disclosed because she is not the agency’s official spokesperson, said experts are still carrying out surveys to establish the route of the road adding that people should remain calm and avoid being misled by self-seekers.

The official warned residents against politicising the road project by people who fear missing out on compensation of their property in case the route is diverted.

Ms Hanifah Lubega, the social cooperate manager in charge of Western region, UNRA, recently led a technical team from the authority in a meeting with different stakeholders and said experts in environment and other key areas in early March started surveying the areas, which will be affected by the road project.

The road will be crucial in the construction of a pipeline from Hoima to Tanga port in Tanzania.

She said the Kakumiro-Buhimba road will be tarmacked using funds from the EXIM Bank of China.

Two companies which are yet to be disclosed have already expressed interest in the tender of constructing this road.

While marking the 31st NRM anniversary in Masindi District in January, President Museveni said critical oil roads must be strengthened in order to allow the oil refinery equipment and pipeline sections to be transported smoothly.

These roads are Kigumba-Masindi-Hoima-Kagadi-Kyenjojo, which are already under primary construction stage.

Mubende-Kakumiro-Kagadi-Ndaiga which is also under construction. Others are; Kakumiro-Nkondo-Nalweyo-Buhimba, Hoima-Butiba and Rusarila-Kabamba-Ntutsi-Sembabule road.

Meeting

Ms Hanifah Lubega, the social cooperate manager in charge of Western region, UNRA, recently led a technical team from the authority in a meeting with different stakeholders and said experts in environment and other key areas in early March started surveying the areas, which will be affected by the road project. The road will be crucial in the construction of a pipeline from Hoima to Tanga port in Tanzania.

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Uganda: Residents Use Community Service to Construct Roads

By Felix Ainebyoona

Mbarara — Residents of Mwizi Sub-county in Mbarara District have lived for years without a convenient access road and connection to other areas, including markets and health centres.

The people in the parishes of Ngoma, Bushwere, Kabaramu and Nyaruhandagazi are disadvantaged in terms of accessing markets, health centres and education facilities.

Travelling in those areas using a vehicle is hard due to the poor state of the roads despite the sub-county being densely populated.

According to the LC 1 Chairperson, Mr Bony Mahatane, Kamurani Village (Ngoma Parish) alone has a population of 2,600 people with Bakiga comprising more than 90 per cent.

He said majority of the population grow bananas, coffee, beans, peas, cassava, sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes as food and cash crops but cannot take them to markets because of poor roads hence selling them cheaply.

Mr Mahatane said the highest price a farmer can sell a bunch of matooke is Shs5,000 yet it costs more than Shs10,000 in areas with better access to roads.

To access the nearest health facilities of Bugamba and Mwizi Health Centre IVs, residents have to walk a distance of more than 20km.

Mid-last year, a eucalyptus forest in Nyarubanga Village caught fire and five people, including a pregnant woman died while trying to save the plantation.

“Five people were burnt by wildfire as they were trying to save the forest. The fire started from a garden where a resident was burning grass. We called for help from police and a fire brigade was sent but could not reach where fire was because there was no road. People died and the forest was destroyed,” says Mr Joram Nuwakuma, the Bushwere Parish internal security officer.

It is this tragedy and other hardships that compelled residents to embark on constructing new roads.

So far, they have constructed a 9km road that starts from Kikunda village in Bushwere parish. It connects to the neigbouring sub-counties of Bugamba and Rukoni East in Ruhaama Ntungamo.

The residents formed a 12-man committee from the parish of Bushere to spearhead the project. The committee comprises chairperson, vice chairperson, secretary, treasurer, four defense personnel, three ‘engineers’ and a mobiliser.

Mr Edward Tuhamize was chosen as chairperson and Mr Aron Banyoya was handed the task of mobilisation.

The residents signed an agreement allowing the road to pass in their land.

“Since people wanted good services, they allowed the road to pass through their land. We had our first meeting on June 27, 2016. We convened another one a week after where we made a minute for people whose land was to be encroached on by the road project to sign a memorandum of understanding and 40 signed,” said Mr Tuhamize.

He added; “After the agreement, we informed the LC3 Chairman, Mr Godfrey Sunday about the project and he supported it.”

“There was a strong need for a good road, there was one but in a very sorry state and passing through a forest where thieves could hide and terrorise travellers was very risky. We decided to construct a road in an open and secure place. This road will steer development since some traders have been cheating farmers because of lack of access to markets,” said Mr Sunday.

Rules and procedure were put in place to guide them on how to operate. Saturday was chosen as the day for the community work. Every able bodied man is supposed to report for the road construction by 8am.

Using the same mobilisation approach, residents of Ngoma Parish have also constructed an 8km road. It starts from Kamurani and goes through Kashekure village connecting to Nyaruhandagazi Parish in Bugamba. The area Member of Parliament, Mr Charles Ngabirano, Resident District Commissioner, Capt Martha Asiimwe and the Chief Administrative Officer, Mr Felix Cuthbert Esoku, while inspecting road works on May 8 promised to provide grader to improve the road.

Voices

“Bulungi Bwansi is the way to go for it enables communities to take charge of their development needs. When I was in South Korea in 2016, I found that this model of community development has been used in most parts of the country; there is self-help and cooperation amongst the communities.”

Martha Asiimwe, MBARARA Resident District Commissioner

“We agreed to work together as community. So they picked me to mobilize the residents for Bulungi Bwansi (community service) every Saturday morning. Mr Aron Banyoya, road committee MOBILISER

South Africa: Panic Buying and Violent Protests After Power Failure in Port Elizabeth

By Joseph Chirume

Protests in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, turned violent on Saturday after residents were left without electricity from Friday. Electricity was restored on Sunday. A vehicle was torched and all major roads into the township blocked with burning tyres and debris. Five cars were badly damaged.

Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said, “Over the weekend it was a cable fault that led to the blackout. Fixing it took time.”

On Monday, residents were again without electricity for two hours after a circuit breaker at Motherwell South substation tripped, according to Mniki.

Police spokesperson Andre Beegte said a case of public violence had been opened but there had been no arrests.

During the protests, a young boy, holding stones in both his hands, said, “This place will soon be ungovernable … We will only open this road when electricity is restored. No car will pass this area or we will burn both the driver and their car.”

Thoko Amanzi, a mother of two who works as a mechanic in Uitenhage, said, “The residents are justified to protest, but I don’t condone the destroying of property. It is very expensive to buy a car only to see it being burned to ashes by an angry mob that has issues with their municipality. I don’t support this violent behaviour. We should only protest peacefully.”

She said, “We were caught unaware by this blackout. I had stashed my deep fridge with food stuff to last the entire month. I have had to throw away the food to dogs because it was smelling badly … Where will I get money to replace that food? I only get paid at the end of the month and there are two weeks remaining.”

She said she was hoping to join other residents to seek compensation from the municipality.

Residents scrambled to buy candles and paraffin at spaza shops. Bread and milk also soon vanished from shelves.

Mohammed Musa, who owns a spaza shop in NU8, said, “We quickly ran out of stock. Residents were buying in panic. Bread, candles, matches as well as paraffin quickly sold out. We also sold a lot of drinks and tinned food as some residents did not have time to cook on their own. The situation reminded me of a war zone where people buy in bulk to stockpile food.”

Musa said they could not restock their shelves because “we were afraid that our vehicles would be stoned. So we ended up turning away hungry customers. By Sunday morning, I had run out of food stuffs.”

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South Africa: Overturned Bus Leaves 70 Children Injured in KwaZulu Natal

Approximately 70 children sustained minor injuries on Friday morning when their bus overturned on the R603 in Adams Mission, paramedics said.

When paramedics arrived on the scene, the children were climbing out of the bus and walking around, ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said in a statement.

The bus was found on its side on the shoulder of the road.

The children were taken to nearby hospitals for further medical attention.

No fatalities were reported, Meiring said.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are unknown and authorities are investigating.

News24

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Uganda: Two Years On, Work On Kampala-Jinja Express Highway Yet to Begin

Photo: Daily Monitor

Project. An artistic impression of the highway from Kinawataka overview in Kampala.

analysisBy Isaac Mufumba

The Promise

In the second week of December 2013, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) announced that construction work on the Kampala-Jinja Express Highway was would commence in 2015.

UNRA’s Corporate Communications Manager at the time, Mr Daniel Alinange, said work on the 77km stretch would cost nearly Shs800 billion and that the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development had already slapped a ban on further development on land in areas the road was planned to pass through.

“The master plan for the road is already in advanced stages, and we shall be moving full throttle in 2014 to address issues like compensation of affected persons,” Mr Alinange then said.

He said the design of the eight-lane carriage and two bus lanes was drawn by a Japanese engineering firm.

The road had been expected to branch off the current Kampala-Jinja highway at Banda, and run through Kinawataka, Bweyogerere, Mukono, parts of Lugazi Sugar Works plantations, Nyenga and Buikwe before connecting to Jinja through the New Nile Bridge, which is currently under construction.

The plan for the highway to cross part of Lugazi plantation was meant to avoid the expressway running through Mabira Forest, which environmentalists want preserved.

The road was also expected to connect to the Southern Bypass by way of a network of tunnels and flyovers.

The project was meant to be undertaken as a Private Public Partnership (PPP), with government providing the bulk of funding as a co-financer. The idea was that the core investor would build, own and operate the toll road for 25 years from the date of commissioning. It was presumed this would considerably reduce the burden that wholesale undertaking would have squarely placed on the shoulders of government.

Clearance to use the expressway would be for a user to buy specifically designated token coins obtained before access.

According to UNRA’s projections, commissioning had been expected to take place in 2020.

Status

The only progress so far towards realizing the promise was UNRA’s selection in June 2014 of the International Finance Corporation to work as its lead transaction advisor in the process of assessing the potential to develop the highway on a PPP basis.

Spea Engineering was then hired to assist URNA to identify possible investors for the project.

But outside of those two initiatives, and close to three-and-half years since UNRA made the announcement, residents of areas through which the road was meant to pass are yet to be compensated and construction work has never began.

Official Position

According to the UNRA’s Director of Communications, Mr Mark Ssali, work on the express highway is progressing.

“Feasibility studies have been updated and submitted for approval by the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Committee. When that approve comes, which will be soon, we hope procurement will commence,” he said.

Mr Ssali said the European Union (EU) and the African Development Bank Funding, which will constitute government’s contribution towards the project, has already been approved.

Other sources within the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning have since told Daily Monitor that the European Union (EU) and the Government of France through the French Development Agency (AFD are contributing €180 million (approximately Shs707.5 billion). Each of them has contributed €90 million (approximately Shs353.8 billion).

Impact

During the July 2014 Financing Summit for Africa’s Infrastructure, which took place in Dakar, Senegal, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), identified the Kampala-Jinja express highway as the sixth infrastructure projects that were lined up for development before 2020. COMESA allocated $74 million (approximately Shs170.32 billion) towards its development.

Since actual work is yet to begin, Uganda is yet to tap into those funds.

Besides, the road, which forms part of the Northern Corridor of the Trans-Africa highway, which links Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and parts of the Eastern DR Congo (DRC) to Kenya and the Indian Ocean Port of Mombasa, Kenya, to the Atlantic Ocean Port of Matadi, in the DR Congo, is arguably the busiest and most congested road in Uganda.

Travelling on this 80km road, which used to take less than an hour, has now become every traveller’s nightmare. Traffic often slows down to a crawl, especially between Kampala and Mukono town. Covering the 23km stretch sometimes takes motorists between one and half and two hours.

While the rest of the road is not very congested, its narrow stretches constrain motorists. It only ceases becoming a single lane in either towns or on climbing lanes. That means that travelling on those stretch takes motorists nearly 3 to 4 hours.

The traffic jams also mean increased fuel consumption, which is not good for business.

With the Mukono-Kayunga-Njeru route as the only alternative for motorists who find themselves caught further down the road towards Jinja when trees in Mabira forest fall across the roads or when trailers overturn are often forced to park for hours on end until when help the Police brings in Cranes to move the trees and trailers, such delays coupled with high fuel consumption means the cost of doing business in Uganda gets much higher.

Matters are further complicated by lack of alternative mode of transport. While a few traders occasionally use the railway transport system to move goods between Kampala and Jinja, there are no passenger train services.

Air transport between Kampala and Jinja is yet to be developed and water transport between the Jinja Pier and Port Bell on Lake Victoria has not been operational for more than 15 years now.

VOICES

“Heavy traffic jams on the current highway have been affecting business. No one wants to stop and no one wants to construct a house in an area in which he spends so much time on the road when he wants to access it. So we welcome the express highway. We think it will decongest the highway and make it easier for people to come and invest. I think the investments will even go as far down as Namawojjolo and Namataba areas”

Jackson Muyanja Ssenyonga, MP (NRM) Mukono County South

“If the time spent on travelling between Jinja and Kampala were reduced, it means that many more people would be staying in Jinja and working in Kampala, which would stimulate growth and development in Jinja and Busoga, which is centrally located. If the highway kicks off, it will serve as catalyst to a possible upgrade of the Kimaka Airfield to a regional or even international airport. Busoga stands to benefit a lot from this.”

Ahmed Osman Noor, Second Deputy Prime Minister of Busoga Kingdom

“I know there are fears that diversion of traffic might stall development, but the express highway will certainly quicken traffic on the existing highway. I think it will have a provision for movement of heavy trucks which have been causing most of the congestion. I also think that the new express highway will help kick-start development in other areas in Buikwe District. The express highway is definitely very welcome” Isaac Ssozi Mulindwa, MP (NRM) Lugazi Municipality Buikwe District

Daily Monitor position

The difficulties experienced by travellers along the existing Kampala-Jinja highway are once again a reminder that in Uganda, those who hold the planning docket must be moving to put in place a master plan that will enable the country develop its capacity to make all alternative transport systems operational.

As government works towards ensuring work starts on the Kampala-Jinja Express highway, we also need to revive the lake water transport between the Jinja Pier and Port Bell. Steam-driven vessels should return to facilitate transportation of passengers and goods between Jinja and capital city Kampala.

Consideration should also be given the renovation of the Kimaka Air field in Jinja as the start of the reintroduction of flights between Jinja and Entebbe.

This, therefore, implies that such a master plan should not be allowed to go the way of most, which have been left to gather dust on shelves in government offices and departments. The plans should be put into action.

Rwanda: ‘Pikiwash’ an Ecofriendly Way of Cleaning Motorcycles

interviewBy Sharon Kantengwa

There is an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 motorbikes in Kigali. Rwandan entrepreneur Junior Kanamugire a few months ago launched Pikiwash, an eco-friendly and time saving company that is bringing a state of the art cleaning service to motorcycles. He had a chat with Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa on the future of Pikiwash.

What motivated the idea of Pikiwash?

We did a survey at the beginning of the project, this showed us that it takes about 2-3 hours to wash a motorcycle, yet in that same time frame a motorcyclist could get their bike washed and be back on the road to make more money. I came across technology that is developed in Asia which is the machine that automatically washes the motorcycle and is ecofriendly. Two years later I came up with the concept and we have our first machine at the Engen garage in Kicukiro. The whole washing process takes about 20-30 minutes depending on how dirty the motorcycle is.

Why motorcycles?

I’m mostly passionate about finding solutions to problems in the market. I believe that if Pikiwash was well established, it would be a nice channel for anybody to reach the market. It’s more about finding solutions given the right environment and technology.

Can you say the motorcyclists were quick to adapt to this new system?

They were quick to adapt but a bit skeptical because the only way they knew how to clean their motorcycles was the ‘kinambas’ (washing bays). It was a bit difficult to convince them so we started giving promotional vouchers just to show them it’s a real thing. We have been working on that to try to sensitize them and the biggest selling point is time. We also realized that after washing the motorcycle we have to do a little bit of finishing which was accomplished with the help of a team of guys who used to work in Kinambas.

The reason we were successful is that our machine recycles water which means that we can use a tank for half a day and only replace water twice a day depending on how many clients we have. It’s the biggest feature that this machine has because we use about 5% of the water the kinamba’s use. We also have a high pressure machine which uses mostly vapor which is very good because it does not corrugate the motorcycle paint.

Your payment system, the Tap and Pay only favors MTN subscribers. Have you thought about other telecom subscribers?

When we did our interviews, 55% of the people showed that they were MTN subscribers, and that is more than a half of our target market. At the end of the day, the idea is to have everybody there represented but to start off with MTN Tap and Pay was the best solution.

You’re pushing for a cash less system but considering your target market, how sustainable can it be?

Having looked at the market and the businesses today, I do believe that cashless is the way to go. You will be surprised that a lot of the motor guys now have ATM cards and whether you want it or not, the cashless system is there although people still have this misconception that motorcyclists are lagging behind. The tap and go solution is simple and as far as Pikiwash is concerned, there is no cash handled. The beauty of this is that as the owner, I have a platform where I track every transaction that happens. There is no doubt about the sustainability, and so if other telecom companies come on board, I’m ready to work with them.

What are your other plans for Pikiwash?

The idea for PikiWash is to provide a one stop care center for motorcycle operators because for them, it’s not only about services but it is also their way of living, and we want to make that easier for them. We are looking at providing more major services like changing oil and hopefully next month, we will see these solutions being offered.

We are also partnering with Engen to provide lubricant services. I want to see Pikiwash become a one-stop center where motorcycles can get the full package of services and duplicate it not only in the whole country but regionally. At the moment, we are looking toward expansion and buying more machines for Nyabugogo, Nyamirambo and Remera.

Zimbabwe: MPs Recommend 15% Levy Fine On Mining Firms for Depleting Roads

Parliament says government should impose a 15% levy (as fine) to mining companies whose fund to be used to rehabilitate local roads destroyed by the same companies during their extraction activities.

The request was made by the Transport and Infrastructure Development portfolio committee to the speaker of parliament, Jacob Mudenda recently.

MPs cited the Billy Rautenbach-owned Chisumbanje-based multi-million dollar ethanol producing company, Green Fuel, Hwange Colliery, and ZimPlats as major companies that deplete community roads without caring to maintain them.

In their request, the MPs said a 15% mandatory road maintenance levy should be imposed as a matter of urgency.

“This is against the background of roads being destroyed by bulk transportation of mining and agricultural products with no compensation at all,” read part of the letter.

“A few cases in point are: the depletion of the $206 million DBSA loan-financed 821 km Plumtree-Mutare Highway at the 134 km peg by RioZim, before it has even been commissioned and an estimated 100 km of the Lupane-Nkayi road destroyed by Hwange Colliery,” the MPs cited.

“An estimated 100 km of the Tanganda-Chiredzi highway destroyed by Green Fuel resulting in a 30-minute journey taking 4 hours, open cast mining by Break Ridge (formerly ACR) at the 40km peg of the Kadoma-Mamina road has completely cut off the road and people have to find alternative roads,” the committee said.

The MPs also said Zimplats inherited 85km road from BHP but further than that, they have depleted all the roads which culminated in a family of seven (7) perishing in a low-lying bridge in the Zimplats mining area, last year.

“The mining company could have raised that bridge,” complained the legislators.

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Zimbabwe: Firm Seeks Ways to Boost National Railways’ Capacity

By Golden Sibanda

THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries is looking at ways of mobilizing funding from its members to help the National Railways of Zimbabwe repair its wagons to boost capacity to transport bulk cargo for industry at affordable cost.

The NRZ last year appointed Deloitte and Touche as transaction advisors as it sought to raise capital amounting to $400 million to discharge its debts and recapitalise. The fresh funding is needed to refurbish the rail company’s locomotives, wagons, rehabilitate track and restore signalling.

CZI president Busisa Moyo said the industrial lobby group was looking at the requirements of its members in terms of cheaper means of bulk transportation of raw materials and other cargo in order to mobilise the funding to capacitate NRZ.

He however said CZI would only consider helping NRZ create more capacity to move bulk cargo if this would make industry more competitive by way of lowering cost of transportation.

Mr Moyo said that there was not much difference in terms of the cost of road and rail transport at the moment. “As you know, NRZ moved 2,7 million tonnes of cargo last year. We want to see if we can add another 2 million tonnes, but NRZ has to be about 15 percent cheaper than road.

At the movement, the cost of rail is same as road or even higher in some cases. If it can make industry more competitive, then we are willing to talk to our members,” he said.

The CZI president said that industry capacity averaged 50 percent, adding that if lowering the cost of bulk transportation could help raise capacity to 60 percent, NRZ would be able to generate significantly higher volumes of business needed to drive its turnaround as well as attain viability.

According to CZI spokesman Kuda Matare, the industry lobby group would aggregate the efforts and resources of its members to help the national rail carrier to repair broken down wagons than have members do it individually to meet their needs for affordable and efficient means of bulk transport. “We are looking at a situation where companies come together and pool their financial resources to repair NRZ’s wagons as opposed to companies doing it individually for the wagons they require to move their goods,” Mr Matare said.

Government is pursuing initiatives to capacitate cash strapped and debt trapped national rail carrier including courting financiers and investors for joint venture partnerships or Public Private Partnerships, among other options.

Revamping NRZ has been designated as one of the key enablers, which need to be capacitated to perform at optimum capacity to lower the cost of bulk transportation of goods, achieve efficiencies and move bulky cargo in good time.

NRZ requires short-term funding to boost its carrying capacity, which has plummeted to about 3,4 million tonnes from 9,4 million tonnes in 2000 due to the antiquated infrastructure, ageing fleet of locomotives, wagons and tracks.

The State owned rail carrier has also suffered from the economic decline, which has resulted in significant decrease in the amount of bulk cargo available for transportation, including its biggest orders of coal from Zesa Holdings.

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