By Kudzai Makuku.


(News Of The South) – Zimbabwe’s Railway system has been neglected for years, and I believe it’s time people should stand and save the little that has left on the once prestigious entity. Seeking for solutions from within the State-owned National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is tantamount to flogging a dead horse. New ideas from independent individuals, working as a collective could turn around the fortunes of the NRZ, to modernise it to match with other countries. As of now, the infrastructure and technology of the NRZ is old and unarguably far out-dated—a decade plus behind. The Rail system is currently substandard and has brought inconveniences to commuters who subsequently ditched trains as they resort to road transport. Industries that used to rely on rail transport have also lost hope in their cheap mode of transport.

Okay first and foremost we must agree on a few things. For a country to progress its transportation system and infrastructure it must be robust. It is simply the backbone of an economy. The truth is all along the responsible authorities and bodies have been channeling so much attention and focus on the wrong sectors while abandoning the most critical sector of any economic development (Rail Industry). This article outlines what a well-established rail will bring forth.

Zimbabwe has the infrastructure in place already but it has been neglected for nearly two decades. At least it’s different from starting from scratch but the damage on the Rail system should not be underestimated. Millions of dollars are needed to bring the sector to live. One can never be able to over emphasize the vitality or high importance of a well-established transportation system. Let’s agree it is just the LIFELINE OF A NATION. All the big and fast growing Nations are a proof to that, UK, Canada, Dubai, China, Japan, India, Singapore metro so vital for the capital to function as an economic growth.

Let’s start with our very close neighbour South Africa. With no doubt it has the largest economy in Africa and is the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa. Rail transport is vital to keep South Africa’s economy competitive on the global platform. The country’s transport infrastructure is modern and among the most developed in Africa, even its rail transport sector is by far the largest in the continent hence phenomenal results to the economy it is significantly incomparable to other African nations . It all doesn’t come on a silver platter; billions of rands have been pumped into the sector, from 2014 to 2017 the budgeted $80 billion on the transportation infrastructure. Last week Tanzania’s President John Magufuli launched a 300km Standard Gauge Railway(SGR) that is expected to create 60 000 jobs. The modern railway will enable the transportation of 10,000 tonnes cargos at once and passenger trains would hit 160per/h its phenomenal development.

Ok let’s move to the other side of the world, according to economic experts (, UK benefits £10 billion to the economy, 216 000 people are employed by Rail sector. India Rail is the biggest employer in India, it benefits the economy with more than 8 billion and India’s economy is now one of the most fast growing economies. Advanced and well maintained Rail Systems brought forth unbelievable impact on economies of many countries in the world. Trains bring other benefits, think of clean environmental advantages of Rail in UK, it reduces Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 7.7m tonnes valued at £460m annually.

Rail transport has a crucial and vital role in shaping Zimbabwe’s and Africa’s economy and it’s high time to refurbish and upgrade the out-dated rail system. Looking into the history of Railways it’s explicit that railway’s technology has been moving on a faster rate. These developments increases transport efficiency in commerce sector both domestically and international. There is an urgent need to focus and redirect our energy towards building our rail system. It’s long overdue. Despite all these developments in other countries, Zimbabwe is still stuck with an old, derelict rail system and 19th century coaches. The situation is regrettably bad; many kids born after year 2000 in Zimbabwe probably do not know how a moving train looks like. To many people the situation looks hopeless. With the information and skills I possess I am willing to be part of the team that is committed to turn the dead system to life.

Domestic transportation is a key factor in economic growth hence Zimbabwe focus on rebuilding, rejuvenating and rebranding the rail transportation sector. Developing the rail system has a direct and indirect impact on job creation in other sectors. Rail sector or transportation is one sector that has a direct link to all other sectors , Did you know that creating ONE job in railway transport creates more than ONE other job in for example : Manufacturing ,Accounting, Market research, Advertising ,Financial services, Food services ,Wholesale trade ,Building services ,Mining and many more.

The relationship between transportation and the economy is crucial and these two aspects are intertwined. Rail transportation is a massive and giant enterprise with immeasurable, substantial direct and indirect effects on economic growth. A paralyzed Railway transportation sector can severely limit a nation’s ability to utilize its natural resources e.g. coal and platinum, also the distribution of resources needed in various industries.

The refurbishment and upgrade of Railway system is way overdue and the initiative to kick start the development needs to be implemented before long. There is a need therefore to immediately start the process of rebranding, rebuilding our rail sector. It will not be a free follow or an easy ride but dedication is everything. We must be dedicated to make this dream a reality these are now desperate times which needs desperate solutions. For Zimbabwe to progress we must start pioneering our ideas into tangible outputs.

On my next article I will be going into more detail on how all this can be achieved, what’s needed and how other nations are doing it and how we could connect Africa using great Rail links, will also talk about myself, my role in UK rail and what role I’m willing to play to make sure this dream of making Zimbabwean and African railway system a Global competitive becomes a reality.

I will go more in-depth on benefits of rail sectors which I have summarised into 3 main topics:
No Dream is too big (what we think of ourselves we become)
Kudzai Makuku

Railway Senior Technical Officer:

LinkedIn: Kudzai Makuku

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