President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday signed an agreement with an international consortium led by world’s digital industrial company, General Electric (GE), for the interim phase of the concession of Nigeria’s narrow-gauge rail network.
Other members of the international consortium include SinoHydro, Transnet and APM Terminals.
The Presidency, which made this known yesterday, said in a statement that the programme is expected to deliver an increase in the number of available locomotives, thus increasing the frequency of passenger and freight rail services in the country.
“In addition, freight haulage capacity by the end of the first 12 months of the interim phase is expected to increase roughly 10-fold, from its current less than 50,000 metric tonnes per annum to about 500,000 metric tonnes per annum.
“Initiated by GE, the consortium comprises SinoHydro, a leading infrastructure construction services corporation, Transnet, a leader in transportation and logistics infrastructure management and APM Terminals, a global port, terminal and intermodal inland services provider,” the statement read.
It stated, “In the interim phase of the rail concession, remedial works will be carried out on part of the narrow-gauge rail line system to make it technically and economically operable.”
According to Yewande Thorpe, Head of Communications at GE Nigeria, the interim phase will include “light remedial civil and track repair works” on the narrow gauge rail line. She added that a joint operation will be established between the consortium and the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) with a supply of 10 locomotives and 200 wagons provided to augment the existing rolling stock in Nigeria.”
The concession agreement, which will be negotiated after the interim phase, will expand the rail service to up to 200 locomotives and rehabilitate the entire rail system.
“GE is committed to the sustainable development of Nigeria and as such we are delighted to have reached this crucial stage of the project to revamp and revitalise the country’s legacy rail infrastructure system,” Lazarus Angbazo, GE CEO said.
“The consortium looks forward to commencing execution of this interim phase with the continued support of the Federal Government and the Ministry of Transportation. As operations begin, our strong partners, such as Transnet and SinoHydro, will bring their strong operating and development skills to the forefront.”
Rotimi Amaechi, Minister for Transportation, described the project as unprecedented commitment on the part of the Federal Government.
“This milestone project is an unprecedented commitment by the Federal Government of Nigeria, which, combined with the GE-led consortium’s drive to modernise Nigeria’s rail infrastructure, will add immense value to Nigeria’s long term economic growth and productivity,” he said.
“This will be an important catalyst for small and medium enterprises and a key provider of almost incalculable socio-economic benefits for the many Nigerian towns and villages through which the rail network passes.”