By Adelola Amihere
If Nigeria is to close the gap with regards its infrastructural deficit, then the role of private sector investment in infrastructure development must be encouraged as it holds the key to rapidly changing the fate of Nigeria’ s economy, the Director-General, ICRC, Chidi Izuwah has said.
Izuwah disclosed this while speaking at the 2020 Infrastructure Dialogue on Friday with the theme; “Rail Infrastructure Rebirth: Catalyst for Nigeria’s Economic Potentials” in Abuja.
According to him, “ We have an infrastructure emergency in our country whether we accept it or not, the biggest challenge our country has is infrastructure and the biggest that will change the fate of Nigeria economically and otherwise is for us for us to have infrastructural sufficiency. We want to make make sure Nigerians talk about infrastructure and do something about it that it dominates our space.
“Rail is very crucial. Any society that wants to become economically prosperous requires a mass efficient affordable system to move goods and service. Government has to take a lead when it comes to rail because of the cost of building and acquiring, but the private sector plays a crucial role. A good example is the Kaduna – Abuja rail. We shouldn’t have freight run on it every six hours, we should have freight run on it every one hour and that’s where you bring in the private sector on a franchise basis to bring in rolling stock and coaches. ”
Earlier in his presentation, Director, Rail Transportation Services, Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Mohammed Babakobi, hinted that the ministry had sought the passage of the new railway bill for the National Assembly to provide the legal framework to facilitate the participation of the private sector.
He observed that the new law, if assented to, will sustain the rehabilitation and modernisation of operations of railway network in the country.
Also, MD/CEO, TTL Group, the organisers of the programme, Mr. Onuoha Nnachi, while speaking on the side-lines of the event disclosed that for PPP to work, government must show commitment and create a friendly economic environment for private sector to come in, which boils down to the right regulatory framework.
According to him, the railway is an economic infrastructure that requires huge capital which must be private sector driven for it to work, investors can put in their investment to enable government focus its resources on social infrastructure such as hospitals, schools among others.
He stressed that every railway in the world is a community of its own and a sustainable means of transportation.
“There are also lots of business opportunities in the sector which government must begin to think of especially in the face of growing population.”
He noted that the reason why Nigeria keeps recording deficits in economic infrastructure was due to the lack of a friendly environment for the private sector to operate.
He however stated that recommendations from the dialogue will be used to develop a policy document which will be sent to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.