An international consortium has signed the long-awaited contract to redevelop the Nigerian rail network. The consortium, comprising GE, SinoHydro, Transnet and APM Terminals, has been chosen “for the interim phase of the concession of Nigeria’s narrow gauge rail network," according to a statement from the Nigerian federal government
The Nigerian network is Cape gauge and was built when Nigeria was a British colony.
The group will overhaul the existing network to make it “technically and economically operable” for passenger and freight transport. A new joint venture between the consortium and the Nigerian Railway Corporation will be set up to operate services on the network, for which it will acquire new locomotives and wagons.
The network currently carries less than 50,000 Mtpa of freight, but the joint venture will be expected to increase this to 0.5 Mtpa within the first year of operation. It has been tasked with then increasing the number of operational locomotives to 200.
The CEO of GE Nigeria, Lazarus Angbazo, said “We are delighted to have reached this crucial stage of the project to revamp and revitalize the country’s legacy rail infrastructure system.”
APM Terminals’ role in the consortium will be to develop intermodal terminals along the network.
At the same time, in mid-May China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation signed the final agreement on building the US$6.68B north-south railway. The line, which has been announced several times by the federal authorities, is to stretch from Lagos in the south to Abuja and on to Kano. The project has been delayed several times and the contract terms then renegotiated. China’s Exim Bank approved a US$1.23B loan for Nigerian rail improvements in April.