The House of Representatives Committee on Land Transport has expressed satisfaction with the progress being made by the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) and has assured the railway authority of its willingness to quicken processes for timely release of funds for the acquisition of needed input.
The committee gave the assurance when it visited the NRC headquarters in Ebute-Meta, Lagos, at the weekend, as part of its oversight functions and to ascertain the railway corporation's level of budget implementation.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP shortly after inspecting NRC's workshop and other facilities, the leader of the legislative delegation and deputy chairman of the committee, Mr Davies Sokonte, said he was impressed by the progress being made by the railway corporation. He, however, noted that a few things needed to be put in place, but added that they were "not entirely the fault of NRC's management".
Major rolling stocks and equipment inspected by the legislative committee included four new CNR locomotives recently acquired by the NRC, two 100-ton capacity telescopic cranes also acquired recently from Germany, 40 pressurised tank wagons meant for haulage of petroleum products, out of which 20 arrived from China a month ago, and other facilities.
"The management has shown some evidence of a good ability to manage and improve the railway capacity. We believe that railway in Nigeria needs to be modernised," Sokonte said.
Emphasising the need to provide funds for the NRC and the current information regarding its works to the public, Sokonte said the committee would work on the corporation's applications.
"We need to inform the public that the lot of the NRC has changed for the better. People need to come back to the rail now to ease the roads of the heavy burden they are currently experiencing. We are worried that some of the purchases made by the corporation were on credit, but we will work to ensure that the government listens to its applications," Sokonte stated.
Meanwhile, the director-general of the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT), Dr Aminu Yusuf, will tomorrow appear before the House committee to brief it on the institution's level of budget implementation and other problems confronting it.
Yusuf, who was billed to have met with the committee last week, failed to show up, citing pressing official engagement. He had sent a representative to make the presentation on his behalf.
Explaining his absence, Yusuf said he has absolute respect for the House and institution of parliament and would not deliberately engage in anything that may cast doubt on the integrity of the House.
"The parliament is the bastion of democracy and I never intended to disrespect or malign the committee, but I had earlier scheduled assignments that made me send a representative," he stated
The DG is expected, during the interactive meeting, to update the lawmakers on solutions to the problems confronting Nigeria's transport industry. He had told them, two months ago, when they visited the institution in Zaria. He had also attributed the short lifespan of Nigerian roads to over-usage, noting that road transport accounted for about 90 per cent of transport services in the country.
"The road transport sub-sector in Nigeria is compelled to provide about 90 per cent of transport services required by Nigerians to move goods, services and people. This lop-sidedness, no doubt, puts pressure on our roads and causes decline in the road conditions, apart from exposing motorists to hazards. This is further exacerbated by poor driving knowledge and skills among motorists," Yusuf said.