The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has said it is seeking government assistance to reintroduce the Emganwini commuter train to complement the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) in easing transport challenges faced by residents of the second-largest city.
In November 2018, as commuter omnibus fares began shooting up the cash-strapped NRZ reintroduced the Luveve-Cowdray Park route.
However, since then there have been calls from Nketa and Emganwini residents for the reintroduction of the Emganwini route as well.
Both the Luveve and Emganwini commuter trains had been suspended for some time over viability challenges.
Addressing journalists on NRZ’s performance last year, at the company’s headquarters in Bulawayo Thursday, general manager, Lewis Mukwada, said they were seeking government assistance in the reintroduction of the Emganwini route.
“We have put forward a request to the government that alongside the Luveve route we can also reintroduce the Emganwini route,” said Mukwada.
“I know Bulawayo has been crying about the issue of the Emganwini route. It is a question of when we are going to get money from the government in order to do that.”
He further explained that the challenge was that of old coaches that require rehabilitation.
To reintroduce the Luveve route, Mukwada said, they had to start by repairing some old coaches.
“The coaches that we are using for the commuter trains are old, so the issue has been the condition of those coaches,” he further elaborated.
Meanwhile, Mukwada said there has been an increase in the number of passengers using the trains over the past year.
“On the passenger trains, we have seen a migration of passengers back to rail given the hikes in road fares,” he said.
“We have positioned ourselves to fares that we think people can afford but also giving us a reasonable income and on our numbers we managed to move about 669 000 passengers against a target of 605 000 and this is up from 344 000 that we moved in 2018 so there was a significant increase in the number of passengers that we carried.”
Mukwada added: “We have put to government that we now need support in repairing coaches; I am sure most of you have seen the condition of our coaches.”