National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has become one of the casualties of the debilitating Covid-19 pandemic after the scourge forced most of the parastatal's clients to withdraw or reduce freight.
Statistics obtained by businessdigest this week show that the state-owned enterprise could not meet its set targets for the movement of cargo for the first five months of the year owing to Covid-19.
According to the statistics, the NRZ expected to move a cumulative 1 139 082 tonnes of cargo between January and May 2020. The numbers further show that from the figure, the NRZ only managed to source business totalling 899 713 tonnes.
Out of the 899 713 tonnes, figures show that the NRZ managed to move only 840167 tonnes.Public relations manager Nyasha Maravanyika said most of the parastatal's clients withdrew their bookings for the movement of cargo at the last minute, citing low business owing to the coronavirus.
"At the beginning of the year, we were very positive that the year would be a very good one for the NRZ. We hoped that the business would grow on a month-by-month basis as has always been the case.
"The advent of the coronavirus brought about changes in circumstances for the company as what we had planned for could not be realised," Maravanyika said.
He added that most of the traditional clients pulled out of their anticipated agreements as their production was also affected by Covid-19.
"If you look closely at the clients' reasons for reducing their cargo, most of them cite lack of business or low production as the reasons why they could not move that cargo they had intended to move.
"There are companies such as Zimasco, Tongaat Hulett, PPC, Makomo Resources, Hwange Colliery Company Limited and many others that have been the big clients of the NRZ. Most of these had subdued production because of Covid-19. They were forced to reduce those quantities that they usually move via our trains and the reason is the same throughout, Covid-19," Maravanyika added.
"We are thankful that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, there were some that came through with that little business which has enabled us to stay afloat. Our hope is that when the lockdown is finally lifted, our clients will be back in business and we would also be able to look into the future, post-Covid-19, with optimism of improvements in the business."