Anxiety as General Electric pullout from Nigeria’s N2bn rail project

 The General Electric on Thursday said it has pullout from Nigeria’s $2 billion narrow gauge railway concession, causing serious setback for the country’s railway projects.

 The company has handed over to South African Transnet SOC Limited, which deals in pipeline, port, and rail construction, Bloomberg reported.

Agreements GE reached with the Nigerian government “are now being negotiated by Transnet and its consortium partners” including SinoHydro of China and APM Terminals, the Boston,” GE said in an emailed response to questions.

Bloomberg further reports that GE will focus on infrastructure development in Nigeria in areas such as health care and power.

“Transnet has been a trusted partner of GE for several decades,” GE said, adding, “we have confidence in their ability and that of the other consortium members to execute on the rail concession project successfully.”

Earlier in April, head of communications, GE Nigeria, Yewande Thorpe, said the company signed an interim concession agreement with Nigeria phase for “light remedial civil and track repair works” on the narrow-gauge rail line.

“Additionally, a joint operation will be established between the (GE-led) consortium and the Nigeria Railway Corporation with a supply of 10 locomotives and 200 wagons provided to augment the existing rolling stock in Nigeria,” she added via a statement.

Nigeria’s minister of transportations, Rotimi Amaechi, said during 24th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES24) recently lamented the series of setbacks afflicting the rail projects.

He narrated how the processes started thus: “We met GE an GE told us that for 11 years, we have been begging the federal government to concession narrow gauge to us, and they have refused.

“And I told them, we would concession it to you tomorrow if you are ready. They said they are ready. Six months, we have finished all documentation, everything we need to do, GE slowed us down.

“The president even fired the then DPP because he was becoming a clog in the process of ensuring that we succeeded. We were at the verge of concessioning, when GE transport… did it collapse or they sold it.

“You people are businessmen, I don’t want to say the one that they would say it affected the economy, but they are no longer there to deal with us.

“Then Transnet took over because Transnet was part of the consortium, and we met on Friday, and we were to meet today (Monday), but if you read your papers, the just fired the head of Transnet.

“So, I said what is this witchcraft? And they have now summoned the team back to South Africa. We have made progress, we are at the verge of completion. Today, we would have been looking at the draft agreement.”