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Railway workers union disagrees with concession

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The Federal Ministry of Transportation and some stakeholders have said that the concession of the narrow gauge railway lines will reduce transportation cost but the railway workers union have disagreed with this view.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)in Abuja on Wednesday, Alhaji Sabiu Zakari, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), spoke of the benefits of concession.

However, in a separate interview, Mr Raphael Okoro, the President, Africa Railway Workers Union (ARWU), disagreed with them.

Zakari told NAN that the cost of transportation would not go beyond what the masses could afford, otherwise the aim of the concession would have been defeated.

He said that the Federal Government would ensure that Nigerians were not shortchanged.

“No matter what, the fare will not be increased to the level that it will affect the pocket of the ordinary man.

“This is a responsive government that will make sure that the cost won’t affect the citizenry generally,” Zakari said.

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Similarly, Mr Reynolds Shodeinde, representing the chartered institute, said that the Federal Government took the right decision to concession the narrow gauge lines in the country.

He said that government needed to do things differently to get a new result.

According to him, the concession will not make the cost of transportation not affordable.

“It might seem like government is insensitive as some people say.

“Over the years, we have seen that most of the government-owned organisations were not well managed.

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“Look at what happened in NPA before concession.

“The way it was being run; but today, operations are more effective; people are more efficient and result is higher.

“You cannot continue to say because of price, it should not be concessioned; we will remain in the archaic way we have been doing things.

“They say only a mad person will keep doing things the same way and expect a different result.

“If you want a different result, you must change the way you do things; the price may go up; but, I don’t believe that the price will be so high that a common man on the street will not be able to afford railway service.”

Shodeinde said that if the cost of rail transportation was too high, people would not patronise the rail and the company would not be able to continue such services.

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In the same vein, the Executive Secretary of the council, Mr Hassan Bello, said that railway was vital to the success of the Inland Dry Port project in the country, adding that the concession of railway would bring down the cost of transportation.

“The concession of railway in the country will not increase the cost of transportation; it will even bring it down because of the various activities that will be going on at the ports.

“Railway will boost our transportation system and also the Nigerian economy; it is expected that the cost will go down,” Bello said.

However, Okoro, the President, Africa Railway Workers Union (ARWU), said that the concession would increase the cost of rail transportation.

According to him, the cost of rail transportation will be affordable only, if the service was run by government.

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