THE Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, said, on Tuesday, that negotiations were ongoing for the concessioning of the narrow gauge lines across the country to General Electric (GE). Amaechi, who made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said that the agreement would be signed before January 2017.
He said, “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 two billion dollars to embark on the project. “If we concession the lines to them and they run it with their money, then you can be rest assured that movement of goods will continue but at a slower speed.” The minister said that the concessioning would be for a period of 20 to 25 years, stressing that GE would run it after reviving the lines and provide coaches on all the revived lines. Amaechi said that the first segment of the Lagos-Kano Rail Line project to be completed would be Lagos-Ibadan for economic reasons and to decongest Lagos. According to him, the 1.56 kms double gauge Lagos-Ibadan rail line will be completed in 36 months adding that by early 2017, the Kano-Kaduna rail line project will commence. NAN reports that the Lagos-Kano standard gauge is a planned from Lagos port to Kano, near the Niger border. The railway is being built in segments and only the segment between Abuja and Kaduna has been completed so far and services began officially in July 2016. The segment between Lagos and Ibadan is still under construction. It would be recalled that after independence from Britain in 1960, the fortunes of Nigerian Railways declined progressively until the corporation virtually became comatose.