The transport sector in Nigeria will soon be witnessing increased activities in the railways, following renewed collaboration between the federal government and foreign partners.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, revealed that negotiations were at advanced stage with General Electric, an American multinational conglomerate and the China Exim Bank on the revival of the rail system.
Mr Amaechi told reporters shortly after he visited the dry inland port in Jos, the Plateau State capital, that work would commence on the narrow and standard rail line gauge across Nigeria as soon as the negotiations were concluded.
The minister, who was at the Heipang Inland Container Depot to inspect its facilities, was accompanied by officials of the Ministry of Transportation, the Nigerian Shippers Council, members of the Plateau State Executive Council as well as the concessionaire of the port.
Having inspected the site which borders the Yakubu Gowon Airport and a railway station, Mr Amaechi stressed the need to develop facilities in the inland dry ports on a tripartite arrangement involving the Federal Government, the host state government and the private investor.
In his response, Governor Simon Lalong assured the minister that Plateau State would contribute its part in the development and implementation of the project, with assurance that the project would receive urgent attention by his administration.
The Chairman, Plateau Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Bulus Daren, highlighted some of the advantages of the development.
He expressed optimism that apart from decongesting the seaports, the inland dry port would bring shipping services to the door steps of shippers across Nigeria, as well as assist in the overall costs of cargo to hinterland locations.
It is speculated that the Nigerian Shippers Council has been promoting and facilitating the establishment of inland container depots on the basis of public-private partnership with six approved locations in Aba, Ibadan, Jos, Kano, Funtua and Maiduguri to service the Nigerian populace.