Nigerian Rail Workers’s Union Opposes Privatisation ,Advocates Unbundling of Rail Corporation

Federal Government has been tasked to review the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), under the supervision of the Ministry of Transportation,Nigerian Guardian newspaper has reported.

Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NUR), has tasked the Federal Government to review the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), under the supervision of the Ministry of Transportation.

NUR wants government to nationalise the Corporation and make it an authority or Federal Ministry of Railways, as doing so would help tackle poor budgetary allocation and zero allocation.

Secretary General of NUR, Segun Esan, made the assertion, while speaking to The Guardian on the sidelines of President Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration for a second term in office.

He said the rail transport sub-economy could be better if granted total autonomy, strong and unrelenting budgetary backup, and democratic accountability.

He also argued that the idea of privatising or concessioning the railway would only compound the failure, as witnessed in the privatisation of some state-owned enterprises (SOEs) like power, iron and steel and other sectors.

“Privatisation or concessioning of railway will step up accidents, unhealthy competition among operators and other grave consequences because private investors desiring to ‘turn railway fortunes round’ will be more concerned with making profits.

“Job losses will increase too, just to maximise profits. British Railway did this and failed. All indices and experience of privatisation/concession in Nigeria testify to this reality,” he stated.

He added that the Buhari-led administration has been committed to reducing rail transport infrastructure deficits in the country for a long time by completing rail transport infrastructure started by his predecessor.

Esan pointed out that the administration is breaking new grounds in infrastructure by initiating the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and Kano Standard Gauge Rail track, adding that Nigerians and the railway workers are concerned about the clandestine way in which the Ministry of Transportation was going about the projects.

“Nigerian Railway, till today and until the Railway Act of 1955, is completely revoked or unbundled, and remains the only institution authorised to do railway business in Nigeria,” he added.

Speaking on how to make the sector better, Esan said: The government can trigger a national discussion on issues, and we will all be shocked that no railway worker or any true rail transport enthusiast will not support privatisation or concession or continuity of NRC without complete autonomy to be derived from its gravitation to Railway Authority or Commission or Ministry of Railways just as we have for Aviation.”

Meanwhile, latest report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), has revealed that rail passenger traffic dropped in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period in 2018.

The report noted that 723,995 persons travelled by rail in the first quarter of 2019, compared to 748,345 people, who travelled in the same period last year.

The report titled: Rail Transportation Data, showed that the figure represents -3.25 per cent decline year-on-year and -3.05 per cent decline quarter-on-quarter.

However, the NBS said there was also decline in the volume of goods and cargo transported by rail in the first quarter of this year.

It added that 54,099 tons of cargoes were moved by rail in the first quarter of the year, compared to 79,750 carried in the first quarter of 2018.

Revenue generated from passengers in the first quarter of 2019 amounted to N520.79 million compared to N507.49 in the first quarter of last year, while revenue generated from goods and cargos in first quarter of 2019 amounted to N102.58 million as against N84.40 million in the first quarter of the previous year.

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