The Minster of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, said on Friday that the Federal Government would in February, 2017 consider approval for the concessioning of the Eastern and Western rail lines.
Amaechi stated this to State House correspondents after Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo inaugurated a steering committee for the concessioning of the Eastern and Western rail lines at the Presidential Villa.
According to him, the rail lines are the Lagos to Kano line and the Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri.
“The Vice President just inaugurated a steering committee to drive the concessioning of the old rail lines, the Lagos to Kano rail line, I don’t know if it goes up to Funtua, but mostly the old rail line.
“And then the Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri that may take you to Kaura Namoda and all that.
“So, the steering committee is to put it together and get the technical committee negotiate (with bidders) so that that in six months’ time we are before the cabinet for approval.’’
According Amaechi, the essence of the exercise is to facilitate movement of cargo lying at the Lagos ports to different destinations.
“There are over 30 million tons of cargo that is lying between Lagos and Kano that need to be moved quickly.
“Some of them are moved through road networks and they are destroying our roads.
“The revitalisaatioran of these old rail lines will enable these goods to be carried through the rail.’’
The minister further said that the rail lines would also convey commuters at reasonable costs.
Amaechi said that the rail transportation was slow because “it is narrow gauge’’but said his ministry needed to revive it while working on the standard gauge already approved by the president.
The minister said the concessionaire would inject more locomotives, wagons and coaches to carry more passengers and cargoes, when approved.
In his remarks, the Acting Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Dr Vincent Akpotaire, said that the mandate of the committee was to set out the critical guidelines for the concession of the affected rail lines.
According to him, the committee will operate at the “overview level” to review the work of BPE and working with the ICRC (Infrastructure and Concession Review Commission) in driving the concession process.
“The concession process is proposed to be driven under the laws establishing the BPE (Bureau of Public Enterprises) but under the oversight if the ICRC.
“But on the whole, the (NCP) National Council on Privatisation, which the Vice President chairs, is going to supervise the transaction to make sure it is fast-tracked.
“To be able to deliver quickly services that are required for both passenger movement and especially movement of goods (freight), which is the major challenge that this country is facing today.’’
The BPE boss said the purpose of the committee was to come out with acceptable decision by government in the interest of Nigerians