The Niger government is to partner with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to improve rail transport and reduce pressure on roads in the state.
Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, governor of the state, said this during a visit to the NRC Headquarters in Lagos on Monday.
Bello said the visit was to explore avenues on how Niger would partner with NRC to decongest the roads in the state.
“This is the second time I will be visiting the NRC Headquarters to establish a relationship to improve rail transportation, cargo as well as passenger movement within the state.
“We are here to partner with NRC because, we have various areas in Niger State, that are not motorable and thankfully, we have rail tracks.
“Farmers find it difficult to transport their produce. I believe, once we are able to provide access to their farms, it will make them to produce and transport their goods at cheaper cost,” the governor said.
According to him, the second objective of the visit is to encourage the use of railway to reduce pressure on roads in the state.
“Now we have trucks carrying more than 30 to 90 tons; no roads in Nigeria can survive that,” Bello said.
He noted that the rail transport between Minna and Kaduna had started, saying that, there was need to improve the system by purchasing additional coaches.
He stressed that NRC would be in charge of the rail operations, while the state government would facilitate maintenance of the locomotives and wagons.
Bello who also presented a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to the Management of NRC, stated that he looked forward to signing the draft.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of NRC, Mr Fidet Okhiria, said the cooperation would partner with Niger on Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis.
“The Niger State Government wants NRC to deliver frequent services from Kaduna to Minna, also from Baro to Minna and Akerri to Minna on both passengers and freight services, so that we will be able to move freight from Lagos to Kaduna and Kanu.
“The establishment of freight and passengers’ movement along the above corridor, will reduce the cost of road maintenance.
“The Federal Government cannot do it alone. So the partnership is a welcome development,” Okhiria added.
He commended some states that formed a synergy with NRC to improve rail transport such as Niger and Osun, while pleading with others, to key into rail transport. (NAN)