An American multinational corporation, General Electric, is set to deliver 20 free locomotive engines and 200 wagons worth over N30bn to the Nigerian Railway Corporation to boost rail services in the country.
This is coming ahead of negotiations between the Federal Government and the GE on the proposed concession of part of railway operations to the conglomerate.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, stated this on Monday after a first meeting of the Ministry of Transportation Implementation Committee for the new Lagos-Ibadan rail held in Lagos.
He said the proposal would be presented to the Federal Executive Council for approval at its next meeting.
Amaechi, who also had a meeting with the NRC workers, said GE had agreed to assemble locomotives and other rolling stock in the country after taking over the Nigerian railwayâ€™s operation.
â€śGE intends to bring about 20 locomotives into Nigeria to enable the NRC to start some activities until we reach a concession agreement with the firm. With 200 wagons, you can take away a lot of those freights that are conveyed by road to the northern part of Nigeria through the narrow gauge, and that will be done until we conclude the construction of the standard gauge,â€ť he said.
The minister also stated that GE would also establish a transport university in Nigeria with a department to train different categories of railway workers.
In the meeting with the railway workers, Amaechi said they would be part of the negotiation for the concession as observers, with appointed transaction advisers protecting their interest.
Although he said GE had insisted that it would â€śstart with zero staff,â€ť the government was determined to encourage the firm to absorb many of the existing NRC workers after undergoing adequate training.
â€śOne of the agreements we have reached with GE is on training; I have told GE that it must establish a university of transport in Nigeria with a department of railway to train the NRC workers and engage them,â€ť he said.
The President, African Railway Union, Mr. Raphael Okoro, said the workers would support the governmentâ€™s plan provided that adequate severance package would be negotiated and paid to those to be disengaged.
PUNCH.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â