Baring any last minute changes, the Nigerian transport sector may be poised for comprehensive overhaul, the kind the nation has never witnessed to date.
The hint came from the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, who on Monday at Radio House in Abuja declared that there is deviating from the Federal Government’s set course to ensure sweeping changes in the nation’s transport industry.
Speaking at the opening day of the second edition of the progress report of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration tagged Ministerial Platform, Umar said that the Nigerian Railway Corporation Bill, Ports and Harbour Bill The Inland Waterways Bill and National Transport Commission Bill have been considered by the National Council on Privatisation f(NCP) for subsequent presentation to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for its consideration and approval for transmittal to the National Assembly.
He said that the Federal Ministry of Transport’s transformation agenda for the nation’s transport sector is to evolve a world class transport system in Nigeria, positioning her as a hub in West and Central Africa.
The Federal Government of Nigeria, according to him, aims to establish a safe, efficient, affordable and seamless inter-modal transport system in line with global best practices, while creating an enabling environment for Public Private Participation (PPP) in the sector.
The Minister said that the plan will bring much-needed investment in the transport sector.
Umar said that, in line with the PPP objective, an “Outline Business Case (OBC) has been concluded by NRC/ICRC and is awaiting the approval for processing to the next stage. Subsequently, a Transaction Adviser is to be appointed following which investors will be invited to bid for concessioning of Railway Operations including the procurement of Rolling Stock on the Eastern line and Western line. It is also proposed that upon completion of the standard gauge lines, they will be concessioned.”
Umar disclosed that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has approved the remodeling of major railway stations across the country under the PPP arrangement, even as he would in a yet to be fixed date, perform the groundbreaking ceremony of the proposed Lagos-Ibadan ultra-modern standard gauge to be constructed by a Chinese firm under the PPP model.
Umar explained that the process for the engagement of the private sector partners would soon commence.
The railway stations to be remodeled include: Iddo Terminal Station, Lagos; Ebute Metta Junction Station, Lagos; Kaduna Junction Station; Kano Station; Port-Harcourt Station; Enugu Station; Jos Station; and Gombe Station.
The Minister reiterated the determination of the Federal Government to modernise the Railway system in the country in line with the 25-year Strategic Vision of the rail transport mode.
“Towards this end, a systemic dual approach was adopted by the Federal Government entailing the rehabilitation of the entire existing narrow gauge lines simultaneously with the development of the standard gauge lines,” the Minister said.
He disclosed that the rehabilitation of over 90 per cent of the entire existing narrow gauge lines throughout the country is on-going and at various stages of completion.
The rehabilitation project, according to him, is the first segment of the 25-year Railway Strategic Vision.