•Amaechi seeks passage of National Transport Commission Bill
THE Federal Government is planning to attract over $3 billion investment to the country through rail transportation, Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi said yesterday.
He urged the National Assembly to pass the National Transport Commission Bill (NTCB), which is before it.
Amaechi spoke in Abuja when the Joint Senate and House Committee on Land Transport visited the ministry for their oversight function.
The minister said with the public private partnership (PPP) planned for the rail sector, the country will harvest over $3billion.
He said: “Warri-Ajaokuta-Baro-Abuja central railway has been properly placed on the path of PPP platform and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC).”
On what Nigeria stands to gain, Amaechi said: “When this arrangement comes through after being subjected to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) evaluation and due process, it will draw a minimum of U.S. $3 billion in investment to Nigeria.
“The MoUs also include the construction and expansion of Warri port and harbour, construction of deep sea port and construction of industrial park at Port Harcourt and Bonny Island.”
He added that the ministry was working to ensure that “the road transport system is affordable, accessible, available and acceptable”.
“Our priorities include the completion of some freight offices, including that of Seme in Lagos, Shaki in Oyo, Illela in Sokoto, Kamba in Kebbi, Jibiya in Katsina, Gamboru Ngala in Borno and Idiroko in Ogun states,” the minister said.
He added that the interstate road transit scheme would begin.
On the need for the passage of the NTCB, Amaechi explained that it would reposition the transportation sector for optimal performance and open windows for private and government participation and investment.
“One of the key tools required to achieve this is the proposed National Transport Commission Bill, which is before the National Assembly for Mr. President’s accent soon.
“The new Railway Bill will as well replace the 1955 NRC Act and enable the separation of operator from regulator. The private sector will therefore be able to operate and manage trains with others on the same corridor, including ownership of rolling stock and possibly their own tracks,” he explained.
The minister added that for optimal performance, a section of the rail project has been concessioned and will be led by General Electric.
“In order to free the existing narrow gauge tracks from its sub-optimal condition occasioned by under-utilisation of its installed capacity and put it on the path of becoming the desired enabler for growth in agro allied, mining and industrial manufacturing sector, the 3,505-kilometre, comprising Lagos – Kano, Port Harcout – Maiduguri and Zaria – Kaura Namoda narrow gauge rail system have been slated for concession to a consortium of international operators and financiers led by General Electric (GE) of United State of America (USA).”
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport Senator Olugbenga Ashafa expressed displeasure following the delay in the submission of the ministry’s budget performance to NASS.
”In furtherance of our responsibility, we are keen on scrutinising the capital expenditure/budgetary performances of the ministry at this visit and subsequent interactions you will have with our committee through the period of the 2017 appropriation process.
“It is important that I also chip it in that we have, through our letter of October 20, requested for advance information on your budget performance and till date, we have received no response from you.
“This is not good enough. Our disposition to your proposals in the 2017 budget would be largely guided by our assessment of your performance over this period and so, we ask for your cooperation to ensure that the process is seamless,” he asked. The Nation