The Nigerian Senate has began probing the country’s Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi over the procedure leading to concession of Port Harcourt-Maiduguri and Lagos-Kano rail lines to General Electric, GE, a U.S. conglomerate.
The senate reached the resolution, yesterday, when Senator Akpan Bassey (PDP-Akwa Ibom) moved a motion titled “urgent need to investigate the granting of concession of Western (Lagos-Kano) and Eastern (Port Harcourt- Maiduguri) Rail Lines to General Electric, a US Conglomerate, for $2 billion.
Bassey, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas, said that upon approval of the project by the National Privatization Council in April 2015, in the last days of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Fa- cility had developed a road map for the concessioning of these rail lines.
Bassey further noted that the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act did not envisage a concessioning of the corporation until recently amended, thus accusing Amaechi of violating the Public Enterprises (Privatization and Commercialization) Act, 1999 by this singular action.
To this effect, the Senate mandated its committees on privatization, finance, land transport, anti-corruption and financial crimes, trade and investment to thoroughly investigate the minister for allegedly not following due process.
Mr, Rotimi Amaechi , had in an interview with CNBC in June announced Nigeria’s engagement with GE regarding the concession of Western and Eastern rail lines – Lagos to Kano and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri respectively.
“GE is already in; we are trying to get the government agencies to allow us negotiate with GE. The company is going to bring in over $2 billion in the Nigerian railway sector in which they are going to revive the Lagos-Kano narrow gauge and revive the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri narrow gauge by private investment,” Amaechi had told CNBC.
Due to lack of funds, concessioning appears the method of choice of the Muhammadu Buhari administration for major projects. Apart from the rail lines, the government has also announced its decision to concession Nigeria’s four major international airports.