NRZ plays a pivotal role in economic growth and supports productive sectors by providing relatively cheaper means of transporting bulk goods. Up to 1999 NRZ was performing this role reasonably well until performance started to decline sharply in 2000. NRZ used to move an average of 12.8 million tonnes a year between 1996 and 2000. This capacity dropped to 5.6 million tonnes per year during the period 2001 – 2008 (56% decline). At present NRZ has the capacity to move 3 million tonnes per year, a 75% decline from its pre-2000 peak. When operating at its best, the company has capacity to move 18 million tonnes of freight traffic per year. The NRZ wishes to undertake an investment programme to rehabilitate its entire network so that it responds adequately to the transportation needs of its customers as well as provide a reliable link to regional transport routes in need of rail transport services.
The programme consists of rehabilitation of the railway line network, construction of new railway lines, replacement and/or modernisation of signalling and communications equipment, new rolling stock (locomotives, coaches and wagons) and refurbishment of old ones, as well as repairs of bridges, buildings and other supporting infrastructure. This calls for the recapitalisation of the company whose total assessment is estimated at US$2 billion. The rehabilitation exercise will be carried in phases and the first phase requires US$635 million.