Harare – ZIMBABWE’s bid to plug bread shortages hang in the balance with National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and millers playing a blame game over the supply of wheat to the local market.
Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairman Tafadzwa Musarara threw the first punch a fortnight ago blaming NRZ for exacerbating flour supply shortages being experienced by bakers.
The millers who are aiming to import 60 000 tonnes of wheat to avert shortages said
NRZ has been scheduled to bring in 50 wagons loaded with wheat per day from Beira, but was only bringing five.
However, NRZ have now come out guns blazing insisting that it was millers who were holding the nation at ransom by failing to timelessly off load wheat delivered to their stations.
Zimbabwe consumes 30 000 tonnes of wheat per month and needs 400 000 tonnes of wheat per year, against the 200 000 tonnes per year produced locally.
“Contrary to recent reports which held the rail giant responsible for wheat delivery delays, the NRZ would like to express serious concern over delays by millers in offloading wagons delivered to their premises with wheat,” NRZ spokesperson Nyasha Maravanyika said.
“Millers are failing to offload wagons quickly resulting in them spending days stabled in sidings.
“This results in delays in returning wagons to Beira to collect more wheat.”
Maravanyika said at present, millers are holding on to about 200 wagons at their private sidings in Harare which they have not offloaded.
“Holding on to the wagons is creating bottlenecks in the transportation of wheat from Beira,” he said.
“Handling facilities at Beira are able to load 25 wagons a day but on 8 November 2018, only 13 wagons were loaded at the port due to a shortage of wagons.
“NRZ is appealing to millers to timelessly offload the wagons within the shortest possible time so that they are returned to Mozambique to collect more wheat.”
NRZ said if millers off load wagons timelessly, the struggling rail giant would be able to clear the balance of 25 410 tonnes of wheat at Beira awaiting transportation into the country.
This comes as NRZ has moved a cumulative 570 wagons of wheat to millers in the country between October 1 and November 7, translating to a total of 20 800 tonnes of wheat.
Maravanyika said as of at the beginning of this week there were 15 wagons at Machipanda and 30 at Mutare which are awaiting to deliver wheat into the country.
Of these wagons, 39 were expected to be delivered to millers by November 8 2018.
“The NRZ has reverted to collecting wheat from the interchange point at Machipanda after the Mozambican rail authority indicated that it now had enough locomotives to move wagons from Beira to the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique from where the NRZ takes over the load,” Maravanyika said.
“The NRZ, once again, reiterates its commitment to providing seamless, efficient, reliable, cost-effective and safe transportation service of goods and passengers in the country.”