Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The federal government said it’s considering unbundling the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to make its services more efficient and effective.
The government, through the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, made the disclosure in Abuja when members of the NRC Governing Board paid him a courtesy visit.
Mu’azu, in a statement in Abuja yesterday, pointed out that the Nigerian Railway Corporation cannot be the owner, operator and regulator at the same time, noting: “The private sector is the engine of growth. Let someone else operate your lines efficiently.
“We cannot have an agency that is owner, regulator and operator at the same time,” he queried.
Briefing the Board on what the government is doing concerning resumption of rail services, the minister said commercial operations will resume after security measures were installed to forestall reoccurrence of train attacks in the country.
According to him, “We are looking at how the rail lines can be safe by putting 24 hours surveillance and immediate response apparatus.
“The security measures will include short and long term plans, with the short term plans taking effect from November.”
Speaking further, Sambo said that in addition to the security measures, he had promised Nigerians that rail services will become operational only when those kidnapped in the Abuja-Kaduna train service have regained their freedom and are reunited with their families.
“I have told Nigerians that I will not run the services until every captive is released. We are lucky today, they are all released and reunited with their families. We are also lucky that all of them are back alive and were all given proper medical care,” the Minister added.
In relation to infrastructural development in the country, the minister said no government has invested more in infrastructure than President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He said, “I dare say that no government has invested in infrastructure more than the President Muhammadu Buhari government.”
He further said that a National Transportation Policy that will articulate a seamless transportation system for the country will soon be launched, urging the Board to ready itself by looking for alternative sources of cheaper and cleaner energy for the transport sector.
Earlier, the Chairman of the NRC Board, Engr. Ibrahim Alhassan Musa, told the minister that due to the high cost of diesel, the cost of running the trains is so high, admitting that they are running at a loss.
He called on the minister to intervene as the railway service is one of the things the present administration prides itself on, especially the Lagos – Ibadan, the Warri – Itakpe and the Abuja-Kaduna railway lines.