FG moves to privatise roads, airports, seaports

The Federal Executive Council (FEC), on Wednesday, considered four proposed bills that are being designed to open up the nation’s transportation infrastructure to the private sector for investment.

When finally approved by the council and passed by the National Assembly, they will enable private investors to build, operate and maintain airports, seaports and road infrastructure in the country.

The bills are the National Transport Commission Bill (2014), the Nigerian Railway Bill (2014),
The Nigerian Ports and Harbour Authority Bill (2014); and the National Inland Waterways Authority Bill (2014).

Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, who briefed State House correspondents after the council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, in Abuja, said the meeting was devoted to the consideration of the bills forwarded by the Ministry of Transport following which a council committee was set up to take a further look at their contents.

He observed that the ownership and operation of such infrastructure had been concentrated in the hands of government shutting out the private sector which he said, were better managers of infrastructure and have more money.

Maku stated that the new thinking of government was therefore, to open the sectors and provide competition to make them more efficient as was done all over the world, saying “all over the world, things are now different as competition has been brought in. As a result, there is rapid inflow of money leading to faster growth.”

Explaining the rationale behind the proposed bills, the minister remarked that following the setting up of the Infrastructure Regulatory Commission, “we found that there are legal bottlenecks that hamper growth in infrastructure,” hence, the need for legal frameworks that would remove the impediments.

He observed that the present administration had focused on reforms in the past three years in order to align with the current trend for government to lead the way, open up the sectors and yet protect the citizens.

Maku revealed that FEC was now looking at the observations of the key sectors that have connections with the bills with a view to perfecting the bills for transmission to the National Assembly.

“What we are doing is to prepare an economy that will no longer be reliant on government.
We debated these bills today and we are very happy with the contents,” he declared.

The minister said FEC also received the report of the National Council of Works presented by the minister, Mr Mike Onolememen, saying that from the report, it was evident that the situation in the road sector was changing for the better.

He noted that the major arteries in the country were changing and travelers were beginning to see the impact of government on major road projects across the different zones of the country, adding that with more funding this year and intervention from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), the situation would even be better.

 

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