Government, general electric hold talks on rail lines concessioning
The Federal Government and the president of United States (U.S.)-based energy/transportation company, General Electric, Mr. Jeffrey Immelt, yesterday held preliminary discussions to fine-tune full concession of Nigeria’s narrow gauge rail line to the firm.
Although The Guardian learnt that the agreement for the contract would not be signed until other interested local and foreign bidders come forward to state their terms, there are however indications that GE might be favoured in the open bid.
Amaechi, who disclosed this while speaking with the GE delegation led by its president, said that the Federal Government was ready to commence formal agreement with the firm. He said, however, that the process would be preceded by a Federal Executive Council (FEC) endorsement of a formal agreement between government and GE.
The minister, who stated that the Federal Government had no cash-backing for the project as of now, however, called on the American company to speed up assessment of what they could bring on board to raise the level of efficiency and service delivery record of the country’s railway system.
He said it was until FEC approved that full-scale negotiations for signing of the contract could take effect.Amaechi, who stated that the preliminary talks were crucial to discuss investment potentials and areas of focus, as well as figure out liability issues and technical involvements in the deal, added: “We are negotiating to concession the old narrow gauge lines from Lagos, Kano, Funtua, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Makurdi, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe to Borno. The entire western and eastern lines will be rehabilitated but we will concession the project to GE and they are bringing in about two billion dollars to embark on the project.”
But Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Transport Division of GE, sub-Saharan Africa, Thomas Konaiti, told the minister that there were varied periods under which the company carries out a study of a project like concession of Nigeria’s narrow guage rail line.
Konaiti, who said it could either be weeks or months depending on peculiar circumstances around the deal, however, assured that the GE would come up with a position by February 28.
The president of GE also pledged the firm’s readiness to import between 10-25 coaches as well as locomotives to jump-start the railway industry in Nigeria, but said the terms have to be worked out in the overall concession arrangement.
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