by FIDELIS UGBOMEH,
The federal government has allayed the fears of workers who are currently apprehensive that the planned concession of some aspects of Railway operations to General Electric of the United States will not lead to mass sack of the workers.
Minister of Transport Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi who disclosed this during a meeting held with representatives of the Nigerian Union of Railway Workers said that government was committed to creating more jobs and not to sacking workers.
He stated that based on the preliminary agreement reached between federal government and General Electric, it was agreed that the qualified staff will be retained while those that are deemed not qualified will be trained at a Transport University (With Faculty of Railway) that will be built by the later.
Amaechi stressed that those that will be categorised as unqualified staff will be trained on various aspects of railway operations adding that General Electric is interested in building local capacity with the assistance of foreign experts that will be employed to train Nigerian Railway Corporation staff.
Apart from training he disclosed that another preliminary agreement reached with General Electric is that the company will donate 20 Locomotive Engines and 200 Coaches/Wagons to the present management of the Corporation as well as fabricate same within a stipulated period of five years after signing the Concession agreement.
Amaechi also said that as soon as the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approves the proposal for the concession of the Corporation, negotiations on the modalities that will be adopted for the Concession will commence between the Transaction Adviser and General Electric with two representatives of NUR as observers.
President African Union of Railway Workers, Comrade Rapheal Okoro in his remarks at the meeting said that the Union was not in any way against Concession of NRC but that representatives of the Union should be involved in the negotiation of workers welfare.
He said that since the commencement of plans to Concession the Corporation the Union has not been carried along for its input as regards welfare of workers in the post Concession era.