The Chairman Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa has said that the actualisation of the rehabilitation of the Lagos to Kano rail line from single gauge to standard gauge is imperative.
Senator Ashafa spoke while leading other members of the Senate and House Committee’s on Land and Transport on an oversight visit to the Headquarters of Nigerian Railway Corporation in Lagos. “As you are well aware, the bulk of this committee’s work is particularly in the areas that concern both the rail and mass transit departments and agencies of the Ministry of Transportation”. The Lagos to Kano rail is a key component of this administration’s mass transit strategy.
“Having had the benefit of listening to presentations and recommendations from the Honourable Minister of Transportation, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation and all other stakeholders at the budget defense before the committee on the 3rd and 4th of February, 2016 as regards the level of work done/the budgetary performance of the 2015 appropriation Act, it is now imperative that we as members of the committee in both houses conduct our on the spot assessment of all the paperwork submitted and defended before us”.
“It is quite obvious that while we have inched closer to where we ought to be as a nation in the area of land transport, we are clearly not yet anywhere close to the mark”. “Thankfully, we can all attest to the attitudinal change in governance, which has ensured that the budget for construction of railways in Nigeria has significantly increased from the meager N565, 170, 128 appropriated in 2015 to the sum of N90, 043, 073, 649 proposed by the presidency,” he said.
The Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial district also tasked the Railway Corporation on providing more rolling stock available on the successfully rehabilitated and functional rail lines. Ashafa, who said the Senators are totally committed to the actualisation of President Buhari’s change agenda, lamented that the amount budget for capital project for the Nigerian Railway Corporation is low. “Whereas a total sum of N4.75 Billion was earmarked for the Nigerian Railway Corporation and the agencies under it, out of this sum, the sum of N4,253,528,989 is to take care of the corporation’s personnel.
There is also an overhead cost of about N99,629,503, hence what is left for capital for the Corporation is about N399 Million”. “Meanwhile, the debt profile of the Corporation is also about N5.2 Billion. Therefore, I wonder what the amount earmarked by the ministry for capital expenditure of the corporation can do”.