African Railway Roundtable has called on the Nigerian National Assembly to pass into law the bill seeking to reform and open up the Nigerian railway system for private sector investment and management.
In a statement issued on Monday and signed by its Director, Olawale Rasheed, the group noted that failure to pass the bill into law before the expiration of the tenure of the 8th Nigerian National Assembly will mean the incoming lawmakers would have to start the bill processing all over again.
He however appealed the Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara to shrug off election fall out and ensure the passage of the bill in the life of this assembly.
Speaking further, Rasheed said: “The bill to amend the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act has been in the legislative chambers for almost eight years now. The Senate has passed its own version but the House is yet to even present it for plenary consideration and passage. Even if the house approves the bill today,both chambers still have to harmonise their various versions before eventual passage. This bill should not be allowed to die with the outgoing legislature”.
He hinted that “the NRC amendment act as passed by the Senate provides far reaching reform of the subsisting act, unbundling the Nigerian Railway Corporation and allowing private sector investment in many facets of the railways business. As it is now,private investment is largely impossible beyond loans and concessions which cannot tap into the many opportunities and financing the private sector can bring into the railway industry.
“The Senate version can be endorsed by the House of Representatives without delay.Nigeria needs private sector investment to expand and modernise her railways. The Nigerian government alone cannot fund the railway masterplan. The country needs more standard guage railways and even a north south high speed rail. Financing and funding railway is beyond the financial capacity of the Nigerian government.
“It is simply disappointing that Nigeria can take almost eight years to reform and open up her railway sector. Ghana achieved that feat under one year,leading to creation to two several rail bodies alongside other regulatory framework. We urge the Nigerian legislature to act and deliver on this amendment. It is very vital for the development of Nigerian economy”, the Roundtable affirmed.