The Chairman of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Engineer Ibrahim Alhassan has told the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Alhaji Mu’azu Jaji Sambo that the Corporation is presently running train services at a loss.
Speaking on Thursday when members of the NRC Governing Board paid the Minister a courtesy visit, Engr. Ibrahim Alhassan Musa informed the Minister that due to the high cost of diesel, the cost of running the trains is so high.
He called on the Minister to intervene as the Railway Service is one of the things the present Administration prides itself on, especially the Lagos – Ibadan, the Warri – Itakpe and the Abuja-Kaduna railway lines.
Responding, the Minister of Transportation said the government is considering unbundling the Nigerian Railway Corporation to make its services more efficient and effective.
Alhaji Mu’azu Jaji Sambo said the Nigerian Railway Corporation cannot be the Owner, Operator and Regulator at the same time, pointing out that ” The private sector is the engine of growth. Let someone else operate your lines efficiently. We cannot have an Agency that is Owner, Regulator and Operator at the same time”.
Briefing the Board on what the Government is doing concerning the resumption of rail services, the Minister said commercial operations will resume after security measures are installed to forestall a reoccurrence of train attacks in the country. “We are looking at how the rail lines can be safe by putting 24 hours surveillance and immediate response apparatus”.
Furthermore, he said the security measures will include short and long-term plans, with the short-term plans taking effect in November.
Speaking further, Sambo said that in addition to the security measures, he had promised Nigerians that rail services will become operational only when those kidnapped in the Abuja – Kaduna train service have regained their freedom and are reunited with their families.
“I’ve told Nigerians that I will not run the services until every captive is released. We are lucky today, they are all released and reunited with their families. We are also lucky that all of them are back alive and were all given proper medical care”, the Minister added.
In relation to infrastructural development in the country, the Minister said no Government has invested more in infrastructure than President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration. In his words: ” I dare say that no Government has invested in infrastructure more than President Muhammadu Bugatti’s Government”.
The Minister, further informed that a National Transportation Policy that will articulate a seamless transportation system for the country will soon be launched, urging the Board to ready itself by looking for alternative sources of cheaper and cleaner energy for the transport sector.