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Railways reform critical to economic revival, says Saraki

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Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa,Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Chairman,Technical Committee on Railways Reform Bill, Engineer Chris Okoye  during a courtesy visit by the Technical Committee on Railways to the Senate President in Abuja today 24/05/16.Photo Ladidi Lucy Elukpo.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa,Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Chairman,Technical Committee on Railways Reform Bill, Engineer Chris Okoye during a courtesy visit by the Technical Committee on Railways to the Senate President in Abuja today 24/05/16.Photo Ladidi Lucy Elukpo.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, yesterday said the reform of the nation’s railways system is critical to the much-needed economic revival in the country.

Saraki made the disclosure after receiving report of the Technical Committee on the National Railways Commission Bill from Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Gbenga Ashafa in his office.

He reiterated the commitment of the 8th Senate towards the passage of the bill before the end of its first session.A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, in Abuja, said Saraki was delighted to receive the report, and thanked the chairman and members of the technical committee for the timely completion of their assignment.

Saraki said the report goes to show that the 8th Senate is committed to work with experts in the private sector, to put in place necessary machineries that are necessary to put the nation’s economy back on track.

Saraki said: “I believe everybody will benefit from the content of this report because no economy can develop without an efficient mass transportation system.”

According to him, “We all acknowledge that the government alone cannot provide the funding needed to upgrade the rail infrastructure, therefore, the bill will make provision that would allow the private sector to participate and subsequently take the burden of funding off the government.”

“There is no way we can address our mass transportation challenge without a direct engagement with the private sector. With a good and efficient transportation system in place people will talk less about the cost of fuel,” he said.

The Senate President however expressed optimism that the House of Representatives would give the bill speedy consideration and passage when sent to the lower house for concurrence.

His words; “This is one way we can address the bottlenecks in the land transportation sector. History is being made as we have opened another chapter in our legislative functions.”

According to him, “We must get the railways system on the right track. Public sector alone cannot address the issues. We need partnership from the private sector, which was the essence of inaugurating this Technical Committee,” he added.

With this report, the Senate can comfortably debate the Bill and come out with acceptable policies that will give life back to the sector. I am confident that the NRC Bill will scale through third reading and passed in the Senate before the end of this session,” Saraki said.

Earlier, Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, said the senate after the Public hearing on the NRC Bill gathered memoranda and reports which necessitated the commissioning of the technical committee to make input into the Railways repeal and reenactment bill due to the sensitive and technical nature of the nation’s railway system.

He said the Bill when passed into law would directly make positive impact on majority of Nigerians, as it would make mass movement of goods and services cheaper and the people less dependent on fuel for their transportation needs.

Chairman of the Technical Committee, Chris Okoye, thanked the senate for the opportunity to make input into the bill especially “at this defining moment in the nation’s history.


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