Rowland Ataguba Advocates Unbundling of Nigerian Railway Corporation and Asset Restructuring

by Ohepo Ohepo

In a bid to address the long-standing challenges facing the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and other assets, Rowland Ataguba, a Nigerian residing in the UK, has emphasized the need for a comprehensive unbundling strategy rather than outright privatization.

Ataguba, an expert in railway systems, underscored that privatization might not be the ideal solution for the NRC’s complex structure. Instead, he proposed a meticulous unbundling process aimed at optimizing its efficiency and unlocking its potential.

“It’s crucial to dispel the notion of straightforward privatization when discussing the fate of the NRC. This mischaracterization only serves the interests of those vested in maintaining the status quo,” Ataguba remarked.

Outlined below are Ataguba’s recommendations for the restructuring of the NRC and related assets:

  1. Regulatory Oversight: Establishing a Government-Owned Body
    Ataguba recommends the creation of an independent regulatory body to oversee railway operations, ensuring credibility and minimizing political interference.
  2. Infrastructure Optimization: Joint Ownership with Private Investors
    Proposing the establishment of an infrastructure company (Infraco) jointly owned by the government and private investors to manage fixed infrastructure and maximize asset utilization.
  3. Private Sector Participation: Restructuring Railway Operations
    Advocating for private sector involvement in railway operations through ownership or concession arrangements, emphasizing the separation of passenger and freight services.
  4. Streamlining Operations: Disposition of Non-Core Assets
    Suggesting the divestment of non-core assets such as surplus land and workshops to streamline operations and unlock their value through sale or privatization.
  5. Driving Efficiency: Embracing a Dynamic Operating Model
    Encouraging the NRC to adopt a more dynamic operating model by restructuring and inviting private sector participation to enhance efficiency and competitiveness.

Ataguba’s comprehensive approach aims to address long-standing challenges facing the NRC while unlocking its potential for sustainable development. He emphasizes the importance of collaboration among diverse stakeholders to drive progress and innovation in Nigeria’s railway sector.

In addition to his recommendations for the NRC, Ataguba highlights opportunities for sub-national entities, miners, manufacturers, and rolling stock companies to contribute to the revitalization of Nigeria’s railway infrastructure. He envisions a transformative journey marked by sustainable development and efficiency in the country’s railway system.

Ataguba holds multiple leadership positions within the railway infrastructure sector, including Managing Director roles at Bethlehem Rail Infrastructure Limited, PSO Project Management Limited, and Bethlehem Rail Nigeria Limited. He also serves as Chairman of Corbegroup.

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