Anxiety Over National Transport Commission Bill As FG Unbundles Railway     

There is anxiety over the expected President’s assent to the National Transport Commission (NTC), following fresh moves by the Federal Government to unbundle the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), which is supposed to be covered by the NTC.

The Senate had on 19th of July 2018 passed the bill after the lower House of Representatives had also   passed it. It is currently awaiting the mandatory assent of the President before it can become a law.

The NTC Bill seeks to transmute the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) into the (new) National Transport Commission (NTC).

The NTC, when signed into law also seeks to disrupt the current state of the transport industry by creating efficient transportation economy well-driven by transport intermodalism currently lacking. It is aimed at creating one regulatory body for the transport sector.

It was sponsored by Senator Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos East), and chairman Senate Committee on Land Transport.

Ashafa had remarked after the bill was passed at the Senate that: “With this bill, we would successfully create a multi-modal economic and safety oversight regulator for the transport sector. This is very good for business as it brings standard and structure to the sector, while also increasing government’s revenue.”

The National Assembly, also suggested in the bill that the Nigerian Shippers Council should be the base for the NTC. Also, Section 3 of the Nigerian Shippers Council Act 1978, says that the council will be responsible for the adequacy or otherwise of affordability of transportation, the class of vessels to ply Nigerian waterways and more. Specifically, it says the NSC should access the stability and adequacy of existing services and make appropriate recommendations, which is similar in character to the NTC Bill.

However, Shipping Position Daily confirmed last week that, while the President’s assent to the NTC Bill is still being awaited, the Federal Government has set up a team to handle the proposed unbundling of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC),  that would see the entity being broken into three or four companies.

Proponents of unbundling of the NRC have argued that it is for efficiency and better service delivery in view of the current massive investments in railway modernization.

 To actualize the unbundling agenda, our correspondent learnt that the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has put in place a team led by the Managing Director of the NRC to work out the modalities. 

Confirming the development recently, the Minister of Transportation said: “We are looking at the possibility. I discussed with the managing director ( of NRC) that there is the need to break Nigerian Railway Corporation into three. One that owns the assets - the tracks and it is in charge of maintenance of the tracks and all railway assets and then one that operates. So you have the Nigerian Railway Corporation that does the running of passenger trains and all that. Then you have one that does marketing and all that.”

“I have put a team on ground to do a study and send it to me. Until they send that to me, I can’t speak more on it. But I think we need to unlock what we currently have because we seem to be overwhelmed.”

Surprisingly, the Senate committee on Land Transportation, headed by   the same Senator Ashafa had also proposed to create three successor companies out of the NRC, namely:  the National Railway Authority, the Independent Railway Regulatory Commission and the Railway Operators’ scheme. 

To achieve the objectives, the Senate Committee on Land Transport, had composed a technical committee made up of   engineers in the private sector to review the existing NRC Act and come up with modalities that would enhance efficiency in the sector.