FG Approves N186bn for Waterways Security

  •  Commences work on Lagos-Ibadan rail lines

Ugo Aliogo

The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, thursday said the federal government had approved N186 billion for waterways security which is in line with its resolve to assist the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA) in tackling crime along the coast.

The minister, who disclosed this in Lagos at the Institute of Directors (IoD) forum with the topic: ‘Transportation: A vehicle for Growth,’ said the approval of the fund was through due process which he noted began earl January 2016.

In another development, Amaechi disclosed that he would implore the Minister for Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, to find out if they can plead with the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as a matter of due process, to invoke the presidential powers for the repair of the Apapa road.

He also noted that the road was being delayed because the ministry that would fix it had not decided, stating it was left for the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to award contract for the rehabilitation of the road.

Speaking on the federal government’s desire to improve rail transport, the minister said they have launched and commenced works on the Lagos-Ibadan rail lines which is a $1.5billion project, adding that recently the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the concessioning of Lagos-Kano-Karanamuda-Port- Harcourt-Maidugri rail lines.

Amaechi further stated that the federal government had also completed the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, continued the completion of the Warri-Ajaokuta gauge and rehabilitation of existing narrow gauges, so that rail development can be quantified.

He promised of government resolve to commence the efficient movement of goods by rail before the end of August, despite how slow it might be, adding that the General Electric has agreed to bring in 20 locomotives, about 200 wagons, and coaches for movement of passengers and freight.

“In the road sub-sector efforts are directed at completion of awarded projects nationwide. Government continues to conduct surveys and feasibility studies on the procurement of new infrastructure nationwide,” he noted.

He explained that the target of government programmes is to achieve sustainability based on three principles: rehabilitation, restoration and procurement of new platforms, noting that the principles were deployed so that the nation don’t loose what has improved and increase opportunities through procurement.

The minister remarked that in respect to rehabilitation and restoration, the administration has laid emphasis on the completion of existing and abandoned projects, repair of existing facilities in the rail, roads and aviation sectors.

He stressed that the essence of the approach is to bring infrastructure to a level that can support productivity and position it in such a manner that it can be improved upon through procurements, noting that it is also a humble approach that appreciates the efforts of past administration and the costs incurred, adding that, “the government opted to rehabilitate the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja runway, instead of building a new one.”
Amaechi added: “There is truly some level of crises in the transportation sector. Evidently, the sector suffers from shortfalls in infrastructure and service delivery, unregulated service delivery especially in the road sub-sector, poor financing of infrastructure and service platforms and others challenges.

“Expectedly, government should partner with the private sector to alleviate these problems. The challenge has been the capacity of the private sector to be able to partner in this regard. The Private Sector Participation (PSP). Permit to state here that the PSP lags behind because of inadequate finance and the desire to be contractors to government.

“Aside the operations of rolling stock as service platforms, the private sector have no infrastructure plans. That is why investment in the rail and inland waterways subsector are not popular. Whenever the private sector shows interests, they want either to collect revenue or become monopolies without competitors.

“The opportunities will be high when government completes the current rehabilitation and restoration programmes that will ease operations nationwide. Our procurement packages are creating interconnectivity that will reduce the stresses of distance and facilitate trade. New programmes such as the development of more international corridors and establishment of Truck Transit Parks (TTP) and Modern Vehicle Parks (MVP) will greatly encourage more investment.”