Nigerian Senate proposes quick privatization of railway sector

Chairman Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos East Senatorial District) has advocated for quick privatization of the railway sector

Ashafa in his recent article titled: “The Time Has Come to Open Up Our Railway Sector to Private Sector Participation” noted that there’s a huge burden on government to deliver on every service and utility, adding that experience had shown the level of decline in the functionality of government owned services and utilities.

He cited example of telecommunication sector which after privatization has not only generated millions of employment but has as well garnered investments worth $32 Billion as at the first quarter of 2016 alone.

While stating options on how to transform the Nigerian Railway Sector to the benefit of Nigerians, Ashafa harped on the need to have a critical change in the legislation that drives the Railway Sector.

According to him, “Legislation forms the fulcrum of human, government and business interrelationship in every society. Hence what we need to and seek to do is to drastically change the legislation that guides the Nigerian Rail Sector to ensure that we maximize the full yet untapped potential inherent therein.

He informed of the ongoing legislations at the National Assembly which seek to make the railway sector much attractive to investors and by extension, promulgation of those legislations that will separate the roles of operators and their regulators.

While citing instance of interactions his committee has had with stakeholders in the sector, the Lagos East Senator said, “we discovered that there is an urgent need to open up the Sector to active private participation, predicated upon both State and Private Sector Participation on a level playing field.

“To achieve this, we zeroed-in an urgent need to amend or repeal the existing Nigerian Railway Corporation Act, 1955, which does not contemplate private participation in the rail sector. I am therefore convinced that the time has come for us to open up our railway sector to private sector participation.

“Once the rail sector is opened up to Private Sector Participation, we would have achieved two principal things, which are; Creation of Millions of jobs on one hand and also we would have successfully solved the challenge of inter/intra city mass transit. He said

He, however, expressed the willingness of the 8th Senate to support the Federal Government through the instrumentality of legislation in the drive to revamp the railway sector.

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