By Chinyere Bassey
The Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NUR) on Monday commended the reconstitution of the National Council on Privatisation, aimed at ensuring effective concession of railway track system.
The workers had protested against the planned concession of the system without adequate preparation that would take care of their severance benefits before the concession starts.
Mr Saidu Garba, President of the Union who fielded questions from journalists in Lagos, commended the Federal Government for reconstituting the Council.
Garba, however, said that the statutory Act of Parliament of 1955, which conferred a monopoly of business on the Nigerian Railway Corporation, should be unbundled.
He said the act should be replaced with another legal framework that would provide both public and private investors with a level-playing ground to invest in the rail transport sub-sector.
“Federal government has taken a bold step by reconstituting the National Council on Privatisation.
“It will serve as checks to the concession of the railway’s 3,505 kilometres narrow gauge system to General Electric (GE).
“’The GE was given the concession for 30 years without plans to engage the existing workers on how to solve all labour-related issues,’’ Garba said.
The NUR president said the government should have renationalised the railway sector, rather than concession or privatise it.
“If the sector must be privatised, it should address the subsisting infrastructure deficit in the rail transport sub-sector and uphold global best practice,’’ he said.
According to him, such step would also help to secure the country’s growth and its economy.
He urged the reconstituted council, with the Acting President as the chairman, to also play the role of an institutional framework.
Garba also wanted the council to address the breaches of due diligence.
He advised the government to review the whole process of the planned concession of the rail transport industry with a view to settling workers’ issues. (NAN)