By Godwin Oritse
The Federal Government is in talks with Transnet for the concession of the Nation’s railways after General Electric (GE) handed the leadership of the consortium to the South African firm.
GE had last week handed the leadership of the consortium to Transnet as it disclosed its withdrawal from the railway concession in line with its strategy to exit the transportation business.
Disclosing this last week in Abuja, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said, “We are in talks with Transnet. When we conclude we will sign the concession agreement and they will rehabilitate the entire 3,500 kilometers of railways”.
It will be recalled that General Electric (GE) had pulled out of the $2 billion concession deal with the Nigerian government for two rail lines connecting northern cities to others in the south.
GE last year won a contract to manage Nigeria’s narrow-gauge rail network in partnership with three other companies, namely SinoHydro of China, Transnet, and APM Terminals.
They signed an agreement with Nigerian authorities in April to proceed with the interim phase of the narrow-gauge concession that is expected to grow freight haulage capacity in the country ten-fold to 500,000 metric tons annually.
The concession aims to cover about 3,500 km (2,200 miles) of existing narrow-gauge lines from the southwestern commercial capital Lagos to Kano in the north and from southeastern oil hub Port Harcourt to Maiduguri in the northeast.