EXPRESSIONS of interest are due by the end of July for two concessions to operate sections of the Nigerian rail network, under a privatisation process that is expected to see preferred bidders announced in February 2007.

Nigeria’s Bureau for Public Enterprises has appointed CPCS Transcom as Transaction Advisors. A shortlist of prequalified bidders is due to be announced at the end of August, with formal bids invited in September. Technical and financial proposals are scheduled to be submitted on December 20.

NRC’s existing 3506 km network is to be split into two concessions, each focusing on one of the two main ports. The concessionaires will be expected to maintain, operate and develop the networks, including infrastructure and rolling stock. Non-core assets will remain with NRC or be transferred to the Railway Property Co Ltd.

The Western Railway will operate from Lagos to Nguru and Kuara Namoda via Zaria, whilst the Eastern Railway will run from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri and the connecting link from Kafanchan to meet WR at Kaduna. The 52 km standard gauge line from Itakpe to Ajaokuta, which opened in 1990, and the part-built 276 km extension to Warri will form the Central Railway, which is to be operated by the state-owned Ajaokuta Steel Co Ltd.

Following the retrenchment of 7000 employees in September 2005, NRC has around 6000 staff. According to CPCS, the WR and ER networks are expected to have sufficient freight to operate on a commercial basis, with identified flows of bulk traffic offering up to 2 million tonnes a year.

NRC’s passenger traffic has slumped from 15·5 million journeys in 1984 to 2 million 20 years later. BPE is currently assessing ’whether or not there is justification to create a public service obligation for passenger traffic on any of the lines’.

  • CPCS Transcom has estimated that around US$30m is needed to rehabilitate the existing NRC infrastructure and rolling stock. China has offered to provide a US$1bn loan to fund the work, subject to the provision of a matching sum from local resources.