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Bill to revive railways passes second reading

By on April 6, 2014

The Senate on Thursday passed for the second reading, a bill to reposition the Nigerian railway system as a key driver in the transport sector with capacity to create 60,000 jobs.

The bill is entitled, ‘An Act to repeal the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act laws of the Federation of Nigeria and to enact the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act 2013 for efficient railway system in Nigeria and other matters’.

The bill, which will repeal the old NRC law, was committed to the Senate Committee on Land and Transport for further legislative action, with a mandate to submit its report within two weeks.

In his lead debate, the sponsor of the bill, Senator Andy Uba, said the bill was aimed at re-establishing the railway as a key driver in the transport sector by transforming the NRC from a non-performing and debt-ridden corporation to a dynamic player in the transport sector.

He said this would be achieved through strategic investments, new policy initiatives and encouragement of private sector investment.

“There is no doubt that a railway Act that meets the current realities is long overdue and this bill seeks to address the existing deficiencies in the existing Act and bring the law that administers railways in conformity with present day realities and international best practices,” Uba said.

He lamented that the railways, which used to be an effective and cheaper means of carrying goods and passengers in the 1960s and 1970s, had been terribly neglected and even abandoned.

The senator explained that the country had a lot to benefit from the revival of the railway system through cheaper transportation of persons, goods and animals, which would result into the lowering of the cost of living.

He added that the passage of the bill would also fast-track the country’s economic development and help in the generation of 20,000 skilled jobs and about 40,000 semi-skilled jobs nationwide.

Uba also said the bill would provide a legal framework for the most effective, affordable, energy saving and environmentally friendly form of transportation of foods and services across the country.

He said, “One of the causes of damage to our roads is the frequent use of the roads by heavily loaded long trucks. This is vividly evident on the Lokoja- Abuja road and many other roads in the country.”