Lagos-Ibadan railway to cost $1.5b

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Senator Idris Umar

Senator Idris Umar

The Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, yesterday said about $1.5billion is required for the modernisation of the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Line.

He also said the Federal Government will review the Railway Act of 1955, which is about 57 years old.

Umar, who spoke at the 19th session of the Leadership Forum organised by the Nigerian Pilot in Abuja, said the glorious era of rail transport will soon be restored by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Minister said: “The ongoing rehabilitation of Lagos to Kano narrow gauge (Western Axis) has already reached an advanced stage. By the second quarter of the year, it will be completed. As a matter of fact, the Lagos to Jebba lot has been completed and the second lot (Jebba-Kano) is about 85 per cent completed.

“The Eastern axis from Port Harcourt to Enugu-Makurdi will be completed by next year. Hopefully by December next year, the entirety of the narrow gauge project would have been rehabilitated.”

On the modernisation of the railway system, the Minister said the Federal Government might award the contract for the feasibility studies for Lagos to Ibadan modern gauge this year.

“We hope we will carry out the feasibility studies this year. The project will cost about $1.5billion, so it is necessary that the private sector must be involved.

“The Abuja-Kaduna modern railway is under construction and by the end of 2014, it would have been completed.”

Asked if the private sector could invest in railway, Umar said the 57-year old Railway Act is being reviewed to allow such.

He added: “Presently, we are working on a bill in collaboration with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) seeking to repeal the Railway Act of 1955. The Act has given exclusive rights of ownership of railway to the Nigerian Railway Corporation.

“We believe we should amend the Act to enable states and private sector invest in railway development. We have already finished working on the bill but it is with the Attorney-General of the Federation for vetting.

“I am sure that in the next couple of weeks, the Federal Executive Council will consider the bill before it is forwarded to the National Assembly.”

On the award of contract for the surveillance of the nation’s waters to Messrs Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, the Minister said it is within the mandate of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Umar added: “The mandate of that company is to provide platform, equipment and expertise to maintain the safety of our waters. The personnel of the company will not bear arms; it is only to ensure the surveillance of our waters.

“People should not make the mistake of assuming that the Federal Government has concessioned the security of our waters to the private sector.

“The Nigerian Navy is still in charge of the security on our waters. If there are security issues, the company will draw the attention of Navy to it.

“The company was engaged on the basis of ‘no cure, no pay basis.’ This means the company will only be entitled to its fees when it is able to meet revenue benchmark set for it.”

In : Lagos