Original Research

Operating a railway system within a challenging environment: Economic history and experiences of Zimbabwe’s national railways

Charles Mbohwa
Journal of Transport and Supply Chain Management | Vol 2, No 1 | a45 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jtscm.v2i1.45 | © 2008 Charles Mbohwa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 November 2008 | Published: 15 November 2008

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Charles Mbohwa, Department of Quality and Operations Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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This paper presents a historical background to the development of the railways in Zimbabwe and then discusses their current state. Besides being a landlocked country in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe has since 2000 been saddled with socio-economic and political challenges which have seen a decline in all economic indices, hence posing some challenges to its railways. This article discusses the challenges faced by the railways as a result of high inflation, unstable currency exchange rate, brain drain, poor management, government interference in management, customs border delays, and energy shortage. The problems have been addressed in unique ways and unusual solutions are proposed. These include customer financing for maintenance and spares and the resuscitation of steam locomotives. The presented solutions, lessons and issues from this experience contribute to discussions and study of railway logistics in challenging environments. Finally, current and future research issues, which have a global appeal, are presented.


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