By Balarabe Alkassim | Friday 27 October 2023

The House of Representatives has called on the federal government to concession the operations and management of the railway system in Nigeria.

This followed the adoption of a motion moved by Sada Soli Jibia (APC, Katsina) at the plenary on Thursday.

Presenting the motion, he said, “The rail system has an endless value chain that contributes to job creation, service efficiency, infrastructure development, and economic growth.”

He said despite huge investments to revive the rail transportation system, the performance of the Nigerian Railway Corporation has been on a continuous decline compared to contemporaries in the sector.

Soli however lamented that successive administrations have failed to develop an efficient and functional rail system in Nigeria.

The lawmaker said the retrogression of the railway system has negatively impacted the lifespan of Nigerian roads, putting pressure on them and leading to loss of lives and property due to the failure of the railway system.

He said, the government should as a matter of urgency opt for concessioning the operations and management of the nation’s railway system, which he said had received widespread support from Nigerians.

He noted that concessioning rail services has become a global option for countries seeking efficient rail transport systems that guarantee job creation and reduce corruption.

He said to achieve value for money, Nigeria must adopt the option.

The House therefore urged the federal government to commence concessioning rail services to competent private investors and mandated the Committee on Land Transportation to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Transport to explore a framework for concessioning the rail services in Nigeria and report back within two weeks. 


Hits the right chord but should have gone further to propose a bill to repeal and re-enact the NRC Act to bring it into conformity with current realities and consistency with the railway constitution amendment. Considering that our last effort ran out the clock, it makes sense that a stitch in time saves nine. So the sooner we got cracking, the better.

Such a bill should among others address the place of private ownership and operation of railway infrastructure as we need mining companies like NIOMCO and major manufacturers involved in extractive activities like Bua, Dangote, Lafarge etc to participate meaningfully in railways. Dangote haulage trucks are doing untold damage to the roads from the coal mines in Igala land to Obajana. He needs a railway to properly move the material. We also need to prise open the door for global mining majors to participate meaningfully in our bandit infested and underregulated artisinal industry.

With many states taking gingerly steps toward improving their railway footprint, the risk of statutory hold up looms large.

Importantly is that we quickly resolve independent railway regulation not only in creating the institutions but in building capacity for effective functionality.

Finally, it is not sufficient to just concession NRC railway operations. We must separate them into the freight and passenger operations components. That way you isolate the headache and take the appropriate pill else you end up back to where we are right now racked by the 80:20 rule.