Monday 20 March 2023

Rowland Ataguba, CEO Bethlehem Rail

Congratulations on the movement of railways from exclusive to concurrent list. You spearheaded the advocacy and now it has become a reality.

I need you to help answer some questions:

 Question. What does the constitutional amendment mean for railway development in Nigeria?_

Thank you. It’s been a long haul. I am grateful to many who have supported the advocacy for reform over the years. Railway Business in particular, the DSP Ovie Omo-Agege who chaired the constitution review committee, Mr President for his assent and many other friends of railway who have supported us. Also thanks to Hons. Rotimi Amaechi and Muazu Sambo. Thanks to our adversaries as well, they made us work harder.

The amendment means a lot as it opens up a vista of an expanded railway in which diverse actors participate as principals. It enables specialisation and customer/market responsiveness.

It births a new dawn for the railway. In all the 20 yrs odd of our railway reform advocacy, the focus has always been on the NRC Act. We recognised the imperative of the constitution amendment but parked it to one side as it was deemed harder to achieve. 

Well , it is done now but there is still work to do. The NRC Act must be amended now.

 Question. How will this new reality with respect to NRC and likely state rail bodies?

For the NRC, competitive forces are being introduced to the market. It may not like it but that is the only way it can survive in the long run. It is because of the NRC’s evident inadequacies that scope exists for new entrants.

 Question. Will this amendment speed up unbundling of NRC and general reforms of the rail sector?

Ordinarily it should but you must be aware of the vested interests obstructing progress. They haven’t relented and we will continue to face them down. Reform of the sector is long overdue and we must make it happen for the sake of posterity.

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