The Federal Government on Wednesday announced that General Electric, a global conglomerate, had emerged the preferred bidder for the narrow gauge railway concession in Nigeria.
It handed over the letter of award to GE at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Abuja and noted that the ceremony marked the formal concession of the narrow gauge rail facilities to the firm for investments.
The government said the concession would see GE invest in excess of $2.2bn in the narrow gauge rail system that traverses almost the entire country.
According to the ministry, one trunk of the rail line starts from Lagos and goes through several states like Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Niger and Kaduna down to Kano.
Another trunk starts from Port Harcourt through Abia, Enugu, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Bauchi and Gombe states, and terminates in Maiduguri.
Officials of the ministry stated that before the end of this year, GE would introduce 20 locomotives and about 200 coaches to move freight and passengers, adding that more investments would follow.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Sabiu Zakari, handed over the letter of award to the President and Chief Executive Officer, GE, Mrs. Jamie Miller.
Miller told journalists that GE would work on the project with its partners, adding that the firm was pleased to emerge as the preferred bidder.
“GE and its partners will work with the Federal Government to work through a concession process that will bring the railway operations alive. GE will bring both project management and deep knowledge of the industry, and how to make projects like this in a successful way,” she said.
On his part, Zakari said, “The Federal Executive Council has approved the outline business case for the concession of the narrow gauge rail lines across the country. Today the President, Transport Section of GE, who are the preferred bidder for the concession, came and collected the letter of award.
“Based on that, we had a few discussions on the interim solutions that should be on board before the final concession agreement. We will also go into an interim arrangement with GE that will see them provide us with locomotives and wagons, as well as the renovation of the narrow gauge lines, which will now enable usage.”
He added, “GE will bring many coaches, which will help in freight and passenger movement, and this will ginger the economy. Our total agreement is about 100 wagons in the interim and 20 locomotives.
“They will make investments in terms of renovation and reactivation of wagons, coaches, and the rail tracks, together with the signalling and railway stations. This will make the narrow gauge comfortable to use across the country and GE will recoup its investments over time.”