The Africa Railway Workers Union (ARWU) on Monday advised the Federal Government to stop the planned concession of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to General Electric (GE), an American company.
Raphael Okoro, ARWU President, said in Lagos that the concession would not bring positive change to the sector but would rather lead to job losses.
He urged government to invest adequately in the NRC to enable it render effective services, adding that the corporation can function effectively without concession, if well managed.
“GE only supplies locomotives; they are not running train services anywhere in the world.
“NRC can operate effectively without concession, going by its experienced workers.
“Government should invest more in the railway sector because it is the only transport sector in Nigeria where the demand is higher than supply.
“We appeal to government to look inward and stop the arrangement of selling NRC to the private sector, because it will affect both the economy and the personnel,” Okoro said.
The union leader also advised the government to prioritise the revival of the rail system by importing more new locomotives and wagons for the comfort of passengers.
He said that government should establish a monitoring team to ensure its investment delivered commensurate services and set a goal for it to meet international standard.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had on May 8 said that GE was ready to bring about 20 locomotives to the country if the concession agreement was finalised.
Amaechi, who spoke while inspecting the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge rail in Lagos, added that the concession would bring development and effective service delivery to the NRC.
He assured that the concession would not put railway workers out of the job but rather create more jobs for the teeming populace.
A consortium led by GE has submitted the only bid for the Nigerian railway concession project worth $2 billion for two lines connecting northern cities to those in the south.
The concession would cover about 3,500 km (2,200 miles) of existing narrow-gauge lines from the south western commercial capital, Lagos, to Kano in the north.
It would also cover the South – Eastern oil hub as well as Port Harcourt to Maiduguri in the North-East.