POTENTIALinvestors are reportedly looking at the possibility of constructing a railway line linking Masvingo-Harare and Chirundu in a bid to make transportation efficient and ease pressure on the ever-busy road.
Masvingo-Harare highway is arguably one of the busiest roads in Zimbabwe owing to traffic coming from South Africa going into Zimbabwe and some transiting to Zambia, DRC and Tanzania.
The road, though narrow and in bad sharp has been a lucrative economic conduit for the country and the SADC region for transporting both goods and people but it has been prone to accidents.
The route is critical especially for tourism as South Africa is one of the largest contributors of outbound tourists to Zimbabwe especially at a time it is looking at increasing arrivals going into the future.
A railway line could therefore help in reducing time it takes to travel on the route, and also possibly go a long way in reducing the cost for both passengers and goods.
Speaking recently Pamwe Capital Partners chief executive officer Cleopas Sanangura said his firm has investors who are ready to build the railway line on the route to offer alternative transport means.
“There is an opportunity; we have investors interested in building a railway line that goes to Masvingo-Harare and to Chirundu, Chirundu Lusaka.
“This is a game changer so we are looking for a concession to build this railway line where we will build it within agreed times we then hand it over to government, so we believe that the moment this route is built the problem we are having on the road network in terms of accidents will be a thing of the past.
“So we are looking at building this railway to Harare, that is Harare through Rusape and that will become a game changer in terms of movement of goods from Central Africa to Southern Africa so that’s one project that is critical,” he said.
Tourism is an enabler driven sector and it is critical for infrastructure such as airports, railways and roads to be developed to facilitate destination access.
According to the Visitor Exit Survey Zimbabwe 2015/16, the success of any tourism destination hinges on the five As, namely, Attractions, Access, Accommodation, Amenities and Activities.
Zimbabwe is among the few Africa countries that have a near none-functional railway system which has seen businesses relying heavily on the road for transportation.
The President Emmerson Mnangagwa during his election campaign promised that his government will introduce modern trains in the country but currently there is no sign of railway development.
And Government has also dismally failed to effectively resuscitate the existing railway network linking Harare and Bulawayo which has fallen victim to vandalism leaving it with no electricity lines and communication signals.
According to economic experts, an effective railway system is vital for movement of tourists from one town to the other as the country does not have much airports or air-strips linking tourism destinations.