From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, yesterday disclosed that the Federal Government requires about $166 billion over the next five years to provide needed infrastructure in the country’s energy and transport sector.
Amaechi, who spoke at the public hearing on Nigerian Railway Authority Bill and National Transport Commission Bill, held by the House of Representatives Committee on Land Transport, also disclosed that the government and General Electric (GE) have concluded arrangements for the commercialisation of Lagos-Kano railway project.
He said: “Besides privatisation, government also realised a monumental infrastructure deficit, which as at 2015 stood at over $3.05 trillion in 30 years or $166 billion in five years with energy and transport infrastructure taking more than 50 per cent of that need.
“Transport infrastructure alone needs a whopping $50.9 billion in five years to cover the current gap in the sector, an average of $10.2 billion per year. Currently, the ratio of funding in the sector between the public and private is 9:1 and this constitutes a major disincentive to private sector participation in the industry.
“In addition, it is considered imperative to intimate this committee that full government ownership and management of these agencies had inherent restrictions for third party funding, undue government interferences, burdensome bureaucratic structures and over bloated workforce, among others,” the Minister told the stakeholders.
However, the Minister argued that privatisation of railway would conflict with public interest, adding that, “governments all over the world have realised that it is not best suited in ownership and management of businesses and as such considered it imperative to shift from purely government to public private partnership (PPP).
“The policy therefore is intended to guarantee efficiency, sustainability, competitiveness and profitability. To actualise these objectives, the Federal Government had established a trajectory towards driving the model. These led to the institutionalisation of agencies such as Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) with the statutory power to superintend the transition of government owned concerns to the private sector under the various models of PPP.”
While declaring the public hearing open, Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, urged that the NRA Bill, which spells out the operations and regulations of the railway sector, be thoroughly examined as an efficient rail system is a much safer and cheaper mode of transporting goods, services and persons across the length and breadth of the country.
“It will reduce drastically the damage done to our roads and highways by heavy duty trucks. Rail transportation also provides a strong foundation for industrial activities in any economy as the haulage of raw materials can be effectively undertaken through the railways.”