BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
NATIONAL Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has revealed that it has lost US$3 663 725 to theft and vandalism of rail infrastructure between 2018 and 2019.
The parastatal complained that despite the arrest of some criminals, it was disappointing that they were given short sentences which are not deterrent.
NRZ spokesperson Nyasha Maravanyika on Friday said vandalism and theft were a major drawback to the efficient running of the rail company.
“From 2018 to 2109 we have lost infrastructure worth US$3 663 725,” he said.
“We have experienced theft and vandalism of copper, point machines, interlocking equipment accessories, telegraphic poles and copper cables worth US$1 144 403.”
Maravanyika said theft and vandalism was experienced nationally, but mostly in secluded areas where lighting was poor and areas close to settlements both rural and urban.
“Some of the infrastructure that have been vandalised include Saw Mills along the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo rail line, Mpopoma, Masasa in Harare, Kwekwe, Gweru, Shamwari and Dabuka,” he said.
He said NRZ had replaced infrastructure worth US$200 000 which was not enough to bring it back to its feet.
“Vandalism and theft have had a serious impact on NRZ as it affects service delivery, the safety and security of both the passengers and their goods. There are also delays on routes due to manual cranking of point machines to set the route among other problems,” Maravanyika said.
“People need to know that infrastructure does not belong to NRZ or any institution. The infrastructure belongs to us as Zimbabweans, therefore, let us all cooperate because maize, cooking oil are transported through the rail.”
Maravanyika said they had taken various measures including awareness campaigns to alleviate the challenges, which include rewarding whilstleblowers.
He, however, called for deterrent sentences to be imposed on vandals.
“The judiciary and the police are not hitting hard on the criminals, they are being given six months in prison and sometimes there are serious delays in courts to finalise the matters,” Maravanyika said.