Declares rail infrastructure devt, national priority
By Michael Eboh & Fortune Eromosele
The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, weekend, said it has engaged private sector operators to deploy electronic ticketing solution for the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, to cut down on the purchase tickets at train stations.
There have been several calls by passengers and patrons of the rail services in Nigeria for the NRC to adopt e-ticketing, so as the curb the widespread ticket racketeering witnessed across major rail routes in the country.
Speaking at the Rail Infrastructure Dialogue Summit in Abuja, Director General of the ICRC, Engr. Chidi Izuwah noted that with the e-ticketing solution, passengers would be able to purchase their tickets online and would also put a stop to the rush and commotion occasionally recorded in the purchase of tickets at rail stations.
He said: “As an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria responsible for the development and implementation of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) framework for the provision of infrastructure services, we have been able to help the NRC install the e-ticketing system to reduce the rate of buying tickets at the rail station.
“Now we are having a private sector player to install systems so that you have a complete control system that enables you to sit in the comfort of your homes, buy your ticket and check-in for your rail travel. Public-Private Partnership in line with the ICRC act and the national policy of PPP is the way to go, to be able to drive infrastructure.”
Izuwah further disclosed that rail infrastructural development is of national priority and should be of major concern to the Federal Government, noting that one of the biggest challenges Nigeria faces as a country today, was infrastructural development, which if paid attention to, can in many ways improve the quality of living for Nigerians.
The DG noted that the government cannot improve and develop infrastructure alone and would definitely need collaborations with various stakeholders and private sectors to see that infrastructure in Nigeria is no longer a major challenge.
He said: “The government cannot solve our infrastructural problem alone. If you look at what has happened to our revenue, our revenues have gone down, we need to be spending billions of dollars. What this shows is that private capital is very key. Other parts of the world have done it and have done it very well across all their infrastructural sectors.
“It is extremely important that we are having private sector participation, but what do we need to do, we need to accelerate it to be able to deliver the goals we have.
“It is recognized that some of our sector laws have not been changed, however, the ICRC Act under section 1 which says that from the commencement of the day of this Act that any federal government agency, corporation involved in infrastructure by whatever name called can engage the private sector.
“That provides you with the legal framework to work with the private sector to provide infrastructure and like you know the biggest challenge our country faces is infrastructure, if we are to solve our infrastructure problem what will happen to quality of life here, there will be jobs, there will be industrialization, all of us will be very proud.”
Speaking in the same vein, Dr Onuoha Nnachi, Managing Director and CEO of TTL Group also noted that infrastructure system in Nigeria entails both the economic and social infrastructure, noting, however, added that the rail system which falls under the economic infrastructure must be private-sector driven.
According to him, the next phase after the infrastructure dialogue was to generate and send a policy document or communique to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation’s SGF, office.
He said, “At the end of this dialogue opinions were sorted out and what we look forward to is to generate a policy document or a communique which we will send to the SGF which is the engine room of governance of Nigeria.”