Railway corporation rallies private sector to new framework
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has said it is considering a public-private partnership (PPP) with stakeholders that are interested in sundry operations along the rail track access framework.
Managing Director, NRC, Fidet Okhiria, said the management has been in the campaign of bringing private players to come in, if not in construction but at the operation level.
He noted that the framework was approved at the last board meeting, and it was passed to the board’s commercial and legal arm, adding that this would enable private players to bring in wagons while someone guides them to access the tracks.
Okhiria said: “We hope at the next board meeting, we will get the final approval for that. As I tell people, our Act doesn’t prevent anybody from operating a train.”
He noted that Lagos State applied to construct a rail line and the corporation followed the process and granted the state the permission to construct.
“They have also approached us to guide them and give them the necessary support to enable them operate the blue and red line. Even some of the coaches for the red line have arrived. We have set up a team to work with them. So that is to show that the government and the NRC are supportive of individuals and private people.
“People have been submitting proposals and we have been working with them. All we want to ensure is that we don’t want our system to be used to defraud people. So we ensure that we do due diligence and ensure the person coming with the idea knows what he is talking about.”
According to him, rail operation is not cheap. Not too long ago the Federal Government granted a bailout to the airlines and rail all over the world; while some are still enjoying government subsidy, whether in Europe, America, China, or the United Kingdom, governments still get involved.
He said: “Government subsidises and pay our salaries, they make provisions for us in the budget every year, although it may not be enough to meet our target to show people what we want them to feel about rail but then we work hard inward to see what we can do to make it better. Government still subsidises the rail service.”