FG Committed to Railway Concessioning, Says NRC MD

Fidet Okhiria

Ugo Aliogo

The Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria has reiterated the federal government’s commitment to the concessioning of the railway.

According to him, as a corporation, the NRC is fully in support of government efforts to raise the railway to an international standard.

Okhiria, who disclosed this recently at the last quarterly meeting of railway workers for 2018 in Lagos, noted that in order to raise the standard of the railway to an enviable height, there was need for huge financial investment, adding that one of the terms of the concessioning is that the concessionaire would develop the rail system and make profit.

“One of the terms is that the concessionaire will develop Nigeria railway system and as well make their profit. This is why the system was followed tenaciously through due process, knowing what we know about federal government that they would tolerate such. This is why we advertised and people bided.”

He also noted that when General Electric (GE), one of the concessionaires that left, three were left behind, noting that government is following the normal process.

According to him, the federal government has handed over the project to Transnet “and as today, we are still discussing with transnet.”

The NRC stated when the train becomes operational, more engineers and drivers would be employed, the number of trains running on a daily basis might increase from one to seven trains daily.

According to him, “From this discussion, we are hoping to get a better rail service, and up and doing railway industry in Nigeria because they are expected to rise about $2.7 billion investment on the narrow gauge.

“Government will provide the enabling environment, if government has the money, they will not search for concessionaire. It is the fund that we lack that is why we are looking for people to put their money and concession for the rail to run better.

“Government is also saying that it should be able to provide employment. Once the rail service is expanded, the number of train services would be expanded, more people will be engaged and more development will be brought into the economy, and rail spare parts can be manufactured locally.

“To the best of my knowledge there was no agreement. There was no demand and demand cannot make somebody withdraw from concessioning. There were hiding it that they had withdrawn from rail. There were some agreements that GE made to government, but was not honoured, consequently GE withdrew from the concessioning. There was no demand and demand cannot make somebody withdraw from concessioning. There were driving, but you cannot hide it that they have withdrawn from rail.”