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Sustaining The NRC Reform Policy

Posted: May 17, 2015 at 4:47 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The benefits of the proposed NRC concessionary policy make it imperative for the incoming federal government to ensure policy continuity in this regard. It must however ensure a well thought out regulatory framework, which would put the private investors in this arrangement under check

The recent Federal Government directive to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF), to commence the concession of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) is laudable considering the urgent need to make the rail transport system in the country a lot more effective and vibrant.

The directive, which, came through the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) was anchored on President Goodluck Jonathan’s commitment to initiate programmes and policies for the reform and restructuring of the NRC and concession of its operations.

Already, a lot has been done by the Federal Government, especially under Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, to revamp the almost moribund railway system in the country. So many rail tracks have been rehabilitated, and new ones constructed across the country, with a number of modern luxury trains being introduced to make rail transportation comfortable.

There is no doubt that a more robust railway system would certainly boost economic activities across the country. But to do this, it is important that government reforms, restructures and privatizes the NRC and allows private operators to take over the management of the corporation. However, the proposed NRC’s concessionary arrangement is commendable considering that funding and inefficiency, which are major challenges bedeviling the future of rail in Nigeria, would be taken off the shoulders of government to a large extent and would now be dependent on the efficiency and professionalism, which the private sector would bring to improve railway operations in the country. Besides, this initiative would definitely improve NRC’s ability to provide adequate, safe and reliable rail services.

It will be recalled that a new Railway bill, which is one of the eight reform bills recently approved by the NCP and Federal Government, is currently before the National Assembly for passage into law. The new bill seeks to, among others things, repeal the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act, 1955; provide the appropriate market design and legal framework for the implementation of government’s reform programme; separate the roles of policy making, regulation and operation; provide a platform for the introduction of private sector concessionaires and promote competition in the provision of railway services nationwide.

We, therefore, believe that if government is sincere and pursues the proposed reform in the RCN properly to a logical conclusion, it will certainly boost social and industrial growth considering that the haulage of goods across the country via rail, will be more efficient and cheaper, which would even impact on cheaper commodities in the market. Besides, the roads in cities across the country would begin to experience decongestion, as it would entrench an efficient alternative means of passenger transportation.

The benefits of the proposed NRC concessionary policy make it imperative for the incoming federal government to ensure policy continuity in this regard. It must however ensure a well thought out regulatory framework, which would put the private investors in this arrangement under check.