The federal government has said that it will create seven additional rail corridors of standard gauge railways under the public-private partnership (PPP) initiative, as part of its efforts to modernise and expand railway transportation in Nigeria.
This is as the government said it will soon sponsor five bills for passage by the National Assembly in order to open the space for effective private sector participation in the transport sector.
The minister of transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed this in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, yesterday, while flagging off the Port Harcourt -Aba mass transit train services.
Amaechi said, “I have the pleasure to inform you that the federal government, through the pup (PPP) initiative, is planning the remodelling and the redevelopment of our major railway stations within the country. Under the rail modernisation programme, government will open new railway lines to achieve an efficient rail network.READ ALSO – FG Inaugurates FISH To Address Workers Housing Challenge
“In furtherance of our commitment to implement this strategic plan of modernising and expanding the railway transport services in Nigeria, the Ministry of Transportation has carried out feasibility studies to create seven additional rail corridors of standard gauge railways under the public-private partnership (PPP) initiative.”
He stated that the bills, which the government intends to present to the National Assembly, include the Nigerian Railway Authority Bill, the National Transport Commission Bill, Nigerian Port and Harbour Authority Bill, and the National Inland Waterways Authority Bill.
In his goodwill message, the chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Olugbenga Ashafa, said the National Assembly will continue tosembly will continue to help President Muhammadu Buhari in realising his dream of a revitalised rail sector by ensuring expeditious legislative consideration of issues relating to the sector and assisting in making adequate provision for funding during appropriations.
Earlier in his speech, Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, said the Port Harcourt-Aba mass transit train services will go a long way in strengthening the trade and human relations between the two strategic cities in addition to easing the stress on the federal roads.
Ikpeazu, who was represented by his deputy, Rt. Hon. Ude Okochukwu, appealed to the federal government to extend the train services to Ovim, through the Aba-Omoba-Mbawsi-Umuahia-Uzoakoli-Ovim axis, saying that the state government is willing to partner with the federal government by rehabilitating the rail tracks on the route as well as purchasing train coaches that will run on the routes.
In his speech, Rivers State governor, Chief Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, who was represented by the permanent secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Transport, Mrs. Stella Ebere Wigwe, said railway transportation in Nigeria should be encouraged because it is not only cost effective, but also safe and minimises risks.