Over 53 international firms have shown interests in partnering the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) after they graced the bulk carrier’s pre-bid conference which set the tone for an open tender process that will close on the 4th of next month.

The parastatal’s troubles could soon come to an end after government’s recent move to allow the national bulk carrier to find a private partner got a massive boost as international investors came in their numbers to outline their interests in the NRZ pre-budget conference.

Speaking to the ZBC News on the sidelines of the pre-bid conference, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Willard Manungo said government has put in place several incentives to ensure that NRZ achieves the initial US$400 million needed for its recapitalisation drive.

“The government is granting NRZ incentives such as national project status, warehousing of part of NRZ debt, conditional ring fencing of bulk cargo to rail and sovereign guarantees for any loan,” he said.

Addressing delegates at the conference, NRZ Board Chairman, Mr Larry Mavhima welcomed the decision by the government to allow open proposals for equity participation, saying the tender process will be as transparent as possible.

Burdened by high operating costs which have seen the national bulk carrier incurring a cumulative operation loss of nearly US$300 million through use of obsolete equipment over the years, NRZ is seeking an initial financial injection of US$400 million to buy new locomotives and resuscitate its infrastructure in a bid to double its traffic volumes from the current 3 million tonnes to 7 million tonnes annually.