Some railway coaches, ramway locomotives, rolling stock and parts, tramway track fixtures and fittings, electro-mechanical traffic signaling equipment of all kinds valued at N122 billion ($249.4 million) have been purchased by Nigeria between 2019 and 2020 from China and the United States.
In 2019, the country took delivery of some of the equipment valued at $43.9 million, while imports increased to $205.5 million in 2020.
According to data by the International Trade Statistics (ITS), the imports rose by 78.7 per cent within one year.
The trade portal added that imports from China was $210 million or 84.2 per cent of the total imports within the period. Also, it added that China supplied $16.6 million of railway equipment in 2019 and $193.8 million equipment in 2020, translat ing to an increase of 91.45 per cent in one year.
United States’ supplies increased from $884,000 to $3.5 million between 2019 and 2020. One of China’s major high-speed train manufacturers, CRRC Tangshan Company Limited, shipped the third and final batch of 32 passenger coaches to Nigeria from Tianjin Port, last year.
The company took an order of 60 passenger coaches, consisting of 44 cab cars and 16 trailer cars of its revamped 25T type for the 156-km Lagos-Ibadan rail line project.
Since the coronavirus broke out, CRRC Tangshan had taken precise measures on epidemic prevention and control, calling on all units to ensure orderly progress in all projects.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, has decried the poor maintenance of rail infrastructure, saying that the spare parts were not available. He noted that the president had just approved the purchase of new spare parts, but was not that easy.
According to him: “We have to make advertisements for people to apply within and outside the country.
“Thereafter, we take them to the public procurement department for approval and that will take you some time. It’s not about competent engineers, but availability of spare parts.”
He urged local contractors to show the capacity to play in the big rail construction projects going on in the country to earn the contracts they long for.
He explained in Lagos while responding to agitation from local contractors on why they were not regularly considered for rail contracts. Amaechi said: “A contractor must have at least five years experience and genuine evidence of work done to be awarded a contract.
“We are not using our local contractors because they are not qualified. If you want to participate, build capacity. “We can’t give you a life-threat ening contract if we don’t trust your capacity.
“We said five years experience, but a contractor in Nigeria will take a photograph of another man’s job as his own.
“How many Nigerians have done project management in railway? Yet they are applying. I am not against them applying, but we don’t want them to go and give the job to other contractors. show us you have the capacity and equipment and we will choose you.”
Nevertheless, the minister said that Nigerians would from now handle the maintenance of rail, noting that some of them had acquired the knowledge.
Amaechi stressed that the contract between the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) for rail maintenance would not be renewed.
It would be recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the immediate purchase of 25 units of C25 EMPD standard gauge diesel-powered locomotives for the moribund NRC at a cost of $76.2 million in 2009 preparatory for the concession of the Corporation to organised private sector on Build Operate and Own (BOO) on designated routes