Deputy Secretary General Organizing of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Abdullahi Eroje has urged the Federal Government to institute a reform of the rail sector in Nigeria, and to remove all rail construction projects from exclusive list.
Eroje said that investors should be invited into the rail system on a Build and Operate basis.
According to him, a replication of the 2006 concession exercise at the seaport into the rail system would open up and develop the Nigerian economy.
“The government should deregulate the rail sector and bring in investors, in Japan they don’t have more than five rail systems managed by private hands, in America it is the same thing, the government only regulates”
“This is what the government did at the seaports, they should replicate it at the seaport and this would open up the Nigerian economy” he said
The MWUN chief also blamed the federal government for the non viability of the eastern ports, saying that development of rail system would further attract importers to make use of the eastern ports
He said “You cannot blame importers, the reason why eastern ports is not working, it is not their fault.
If the government wants the eastern ports to boom, they should come up with a master plan for an intermodal rail system, so that as you drop your container at Onne Port, under six hours it would be in Lagos, if we have an intermodal rail system that links the port, trailers would be reduced”
“The coastal rail line that government was planning, they don’t need to budget for it, budgeting for it is one thing, but releasing it is something else, you can budget N10b for a project and not release more than N2b in a fiscal year, and the contract would continue to suffer”
“The government continued to leave such projects in exclusive list because of budget padding”
“Some of these contracts should be removed from exclusive lists, they should bring in investors, the land is free, we are not paid compensation, you can build a railway from Lagos to Calabar on Build and Operate basis, do you know how many people such a project would employ”
“Fast gauge rail lines would also be used for passenger transportation from one state to another where people can live in Edo State and work in Lagos” he said