GE led consortium to start the Interim Phase of the Nigerian narrow-gauge railway concession.

A General Electric (GE) led international consortium on Friday 29 March secured the deal to begin construction of the Interim Phase of the Nigerian narrow-gauge railway concession. The agreement for the group to proceed was finalized in Washington DC.

The consortium comprises the world’s premier digital industrial company GE, leading infrastructure construction services corporation SinoHydro, a leader in transportation and logistics infrastructure management Transnet, and a global port, terminal and intermodal inland services provider APM Terminals.

Commenting on the significance of the rail program, Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi said, “This milestone project is an unprecedented commitment by the Federal Government of Nigeria, which, combined with the GE-led Consortium’s drive to modernizing Nigeria’s rail infrastructure, will add immense value to Nigeria’s long term economic growth and productivity.

“This will be an important catalyst for small and medium enterprises and a key provider of almost incalculable socio-economic benefits for the many Nigerian towns and villages through which the rail network passes.”

The interim phase of the rail concession will see to remedial works survey on part of the narrow-gauge rail line system to ensure that it is technically and economically operable. A joint operation will be established between the Consortium and the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) with the initial supply of 10 locomotives and 200 wagons to boost the existing rolling stock in Nigeria.

Speaking on the occasion, Lazarus Angbazo, CEO of GE Nigeria, said, “The Consortium looks forward to commencing execution of this Interim Phase with the continued support of the Federal Government and the Ministry of Transportation. As operations begin, our strong partners, such as Transnet and SinoHydro, will bring their strong operating and development skills to the forefront.”

“GE is committed to the sustainable development of Nigeria and as such we are delighted to have reached this crucial stage of the project to revamp and revitalize the country’s legacy rail infrastructure system.”

Petrus Fusi, Chief Executive of Transnet International Holdings also said, “We are pleased to be a partner in this ground-breaking concession and look forward to the successful execution of the Interim Phase with the government and the opportunity to add value.”

In the same vein, SinoHydro Chairman Ding Zhengguo noted that “This announcement is a step closer to the opportunity to transform rail infrastructure and transportation logistics in Nigeria; a country with huge potential. We are very excited to partner with this resourceful consortium to deliver value.”

“APM Terminals has been actively investing and participating in Nigeria’s logistics infrastructure since 2006, and we are proud to be a part of this project to improve access for the Nigerian hinterland to the global logistics chain,” David Skov, Head of Terminals IMEA added to the statements.

This project is expected to bring an upturn in the number of available locomotives that would guarantee the increase in the frequency of passenger and freight rail services. Its projected that  freight haulage capacity will increase roughly ten-fold, from its current less than 50 000 metric tonnes per annum to about 500 000 metric tonnes per annum by the end of the first 12 months of the interim phase.

To ensure the development of the country’s rail infrastructure, the Nigerian government in May 2017 selected the GE led Consortium as the preferred bidder of the concession of lines, associated operational infrastructure, and spur lines of the Nigerian Railway Corporation.