Truth be told, Zimbabwe is just a messy country. Among many things which bear testimony to this, our trains tell a very gloomy story.
To think trains were once a preferred mode of transport some time back. But that’s not the story now. The leadership of Robert Mugabe was catastrophic, and our trains are evidence of this. Evidence of an economy functioning at the lowest level one can think of.
According to a story from Reuters, there is a longing for the past years when things were functional and not derelict as they are now.
Gilbert Mthinzima Ndlovu, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war and a security guard at the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) for 35 years, yearns for the old days when trains were full and arrived on time.
“Times are different now as we have few passengers,” the off-duty Ndlovu told Reuters as he rested in a badly lit first class cabin during the journey from the capital Harare to his home in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city.
Not surprising, then, that many Zimbabweans prefer to make the 440 km journey by bus or public taxi in around five hours than have to endure a cold overnight train ride – even if at $10 the train ride costs only half as much.
Toilets are filthy, there is lack of lighting and water in our trains. Some tracks are even overgrown with weeds and grass because they haven’t been used for the longest time. That’s just messed up. Signalling and information systems are vandalized.
To even say it’s a broken train service would be an understatement.
Deals as regards resuscitating NRZ are always talked of, but there is nothing to show for it.