Ahead of the proposed concession of the Nigeria Railway projects to General Electric (GE), the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi yesterday met with railway workers assuring them of safety of their jobs.
The Minister also said the government had not concluded talks on the concession as workers would be carried along in the process.
Amaechi who spoke at the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) compound during a meeting with the workers as well as inspection of the ongoing construction work of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge line said General Electric planned to bring 20 locomotives, 200 wagons and establish a University of Transport.
It would be recalled that a consortium led by General Electric (GE.N) submitted the only bid for a Nigerian railway concession project worth around $2 billion for two lines connecting northern cities to others in the south.
The concession will cover about 3,500 km (2,200 miles) of existing narrow-gauge lines from the southwestern commercial capital, Lagos, to Kano in the north, and southeastern oil hub Port Harcourt to Maiduguri in the northeast.
The Transport University, Amaechi said, would have a Faculty of Railway which would specialize in Railway engineering with a view to broadening the skills of railway workers.
As part of the ongoing negotiations with the GE, the Minister pointed out that the concessionaire showed more interest in cargoes hence its decision to bring in the 200 wagons which would aid massive freight movements from north to the south thereby reducing the pressure on Nigerian roads.
Over 10,000 Railway workers under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NUR) and the Senior Staff Association of Railway Workers (SSA) had said government cannot concession the railway without addressing the issue of workers welfare.