Stakeholders have identified funding as the key challenge being faced in the struggle to overhaul Nigeria’s Rail infrastructure.
Speaking at the infrastructure dialogue organized by TTL group under the Leadership of Dr Onuoha Nnachi with theme: Rail infrastructure rebirth, the issue of how to fund railway projects across the country took center stage.
While the Director rail Engr. Mohammed Babakobi who was represented by Mr Barry Odii, outlined the various rail projects and the volume of passengers expected on each which ran into millions as well as the economic growth this will bring to the areas along the rail road, he said the main issue being faced was to decide ” whether concessionary loans should continue or alternative sources of funding should be explored.
The MD Nigerian railway corporation Engr Fidet Okhiria in his presentation stressed the need to develop infrastructure.
According to Okhiria ,” To make a country great, you have to get infrastructure right”.
He said the two options for accessing funding are through public private sector partnership via concessionary loans and BOT facilities and direct funding through the budget.
The NRC MD disclosed that two Motor diesel engines and 8 passenger coaches have been received and off loaded at the ports for the Lagos Ibadan rail while 8 coaches are equally to be added to Abuja Kaduna rail to ease passenger discomfort and difficulty getting tickets.
Participants at the dialogue on their part, questioned the high cost of rail tickets and decried the fact that the railway act of 1955 was still in use. They called for fresh laws to be enacted for the railway sector in tune with modern day reality.
The DG ICRC on his part said instead of losing time waiting for fresh laws, it is best to key into the ICRC act which makes allowances for concessions to move the country forward.
Goodwill messages from key players lauded the initiative of the converters and called for more of such dialogues to enable Nigeria fine tune her economic plans.