OrderPaperToday – Nigeria loses no less than N450 billion annually to epileptic railway transportation despite billions sunk into rail rehabilitation in the last five years.

This disclosure is coming on the heels of denials by former Board chairmen of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) of having any involvement in the award of contracts in the period under review.

Former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Bamangar Tukur on Thursday told the House of Representatives committee probing the sector that he did not award any railway contract as Board Chairman.

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Tukur said the Procurement Act excluded the NRC Board from participating in the award of railway contracts.

“The Board which I chaired was never involved in any contract award and was never told or invited to participate in issues of contract award of financial disbursement,’’ he said.

He added that throughout his stay as the Board Chairman no issue of contract award of any amount or tune was discussed or awarded by the Board.

Another Chairman of the Board, Mr. Kawu Baraje said that he was not privileged to appoint any consultant or award contracts for the railway projects.

According to Baraje, all the paraphernalia and indices that would assist him carry out his work were all gone.

“We only played the role of inspection because the procurement Act excluded the Board from participating in any contract,’’ Baraje added.

He expressed worry that the country’s railway transportation system has suffered neglect “in spite of playing critical role in the development of the economy’’.

Baraje who was also a former National Chairman of PDP said that more attention should be given to the 25 year railway modernization plan to boost transportation in the country.

Also Sen. Ladan Shuni, another former Board Chairman of the NRC wondered the essence of inaugurating a board that lacked the capacity to oversight the award of contracts.

Earlier, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara urged the ad hoc committee to ascertain the quality of contractors awarded the contracts.

“In view of the billion on Naira sunk into the railway project, the committee must ascertain the qualities of contractors awarded these contracts.

“The contracts must be value for the money,’’ Dogara said. He pointed out that the railway transportation was three times more efficient and environmentally friendly than other means of transportation.

Chairman of the ad-hoc Committee, Rep. Johnson Agbonayinma (PDP-Edo) said that Nigeria loses N450 billion annually due to the poor state of railway infrastructure.

“The contributions of transport to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been on the downward trend due to the poor state of our rails thereby resulting to an economic loss to the tune of N450 billion annually.

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