Tuesday, January 24, 2017 7:54 pm
The Federal Government has opened discussion with the General Electric (GE) and other companies in respect of the planned concession of the old narrow gauge rail lines in the country.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday.
Amaechi has in 2016 expressed the government’s determination to revive the old narrow gauge across the country through concession.
He said that the government was currently negotiating with GE and other companies that had indicated interest to take over Lagos-Kano and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri narrow gauge through concession.
Amaechi explained that the narrow gauge, which ran from Lagos to Kano through Funtua to Nguru and that of Port Harcourt to Borno to Nguru on Yobe were the old narrow gauge.
According to him, the deal was initially put at 2 billion US dollars but now I can’t tell how much it will worth and that is why we are now talking.
“The negotiation is on and we are at the level of talking and it is only after then that we can talk of the deal.
“We are saying that between now and when the deal will happen, can the GE revive the 25 locomotives that we have to get it to work and work efficiently.
“ The 25 locomotives have been there for a long time and we are trying to see if they can revive them and maintain them to increase the capacity of the Nigerian Railway Corporation so that people can travel easily from Lagos to Kano or Port Harcourt to Maiduguri fairly.
“We are going to concession the narrow gauge and if it is GE that we are going to concession it to, they will bring everything,’’ he said.
The minister also confirmed that the government had released N76 billion as counterpart funding for Lagos-Ibadan Rail, adding that government had also gotten approval from China Exim Bank.
According to him, our counterpart funding is N72 billion from the total cost of 1.5 billion dollars and the balance is paid by China Exim Bank.
“The new coaches to be deployed on Abuja-Kaduna rail line would arrive between February and March.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure that passengers are able to use the train from Abuja to Kaduna and from Kaduna to Abuja,’’ he said.
Fidet Okhiria, Managing Director, NRC, said the concession of the rail line was open, adding that the corporation had advertised for people to show interest.
Okhiria said that as at Monday, only five companies had shown interest of which GE was one of them, adding that their applications would be assessed based on the pre-qualification requirements.
According to him, every other company has been coming but because the GE is big, people are more interested in their involvement. (NAN)