‘Why past attempt by government to concession railway failed’
Lack of a legal framework backed by appropriate legislation from the National Assembly, has been identified as the major factor responsible for the failure of the Federal Government to concession the country’s railway system in 2005.
The Olusegun Obasanjo-led government that year, made taken steps to give the management of the country’s railways to a concessionaire in order to guarantee efficiency under specific trade agreement.
The plan was, however, aborted thereby retaining the management of the sector in the control of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC).
According to the Director, Rail, Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Mohammed Babakobi, the plan would have worked if the country had a legislation-backed legal framework for the railway sector.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja at a one-day Agri-produce and Solid Minerals and Rail Summit held to set agenda for the resuscitation of rail transportation in the country, Babakobi said that although management of rail transportation would have long been transferred to a concessionaire in 2005, sheer determination on the part of government was not enough to set it in motion.
“The only reason that Federal Government could not concession the railways in 2005 as planned was because there was no law backing the concession plan. Yes, the Federal Government then wanted the concession because it would guarantee efficiency, but it could not take off because there was no law enacted by the National Assembly to support it,” he said.
The director of rail, however, disclosed that plans are underway by the 8th Senate to enact a law to back fresh concession plans adding, “all things being equal, the bill on rail currently before the lawmakers may be passed into law within two months.”
While stressing the importance the overhaul of the rail transportation system to the successful diversification of the nation’s economy and increased earnings from non-oil investments, Babakobi said the Nigerian railway system began began collapsing in 1972 when the mining sector was privatised, leading to massive disinvestment in rail transportation by Indians and other stakeholders.