By Grace Alegba
The Ikeja Branch of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) on Wednesday agreed to partner on local manufacturing of train spare parts.
This was made known at the inauguration of a tripartite working group at Ebute Meta, Lagos State.
The NRC Managing Director, Mr Fidet Okhiria said at the event that the NSE and FIIRO should consider the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the local manufacturing ‘already signed’.
While inaugurating the 16-member tripartite working group, Okhiria, an engineer, pledged the support of NRC for the group and the project aimed at boosting railway infrastructure.
“I am going to support this process,” he said.
He requested for one week to study the draft MOU.
The managing director noted the huge cost of railway infrastructure.
He said that investment into railway in the nation was huge because of the willingness of the Federal Government to provide cheap transportation for Nigerians.
He said that powering a locomotive engine cost much, noting that the battery alone cost about N4 million
The managing director expressed hope that local manufacturing of train spare parts would go a long way to accelerate the growth of transport sector.
The managing director advised the engineers to begin production of smaller components and grow capacity for bigger parts.
He assured that the NRC would fine-tune the terms of reference for the manufacturing to take-off.
“I will say this paper (draft MOU) has been signed, it is assumed signed,” he said.
Mr Anthony Onyokoko, NRC’S Director of Civil Engineering/New Lines, urged the Ikeja chapter of NSE to partner with other branches of NSE which submitted similar proposals to NRC, to get robust input to drive the manufacturing.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of Ikeja Branch of NSE, Mr Tosin Ogunmola, said that the Federal Government had made a huge investment in railway construction.
He advised that the investment should be supported by a good maintenance culture.
Ogunmola urged support for government efforts at taking over train operations and maintenance.
He said that maintenance and operations aspects had been identified by the NSE as areas of local content development.
“The working group would be driving a memorandum of understanding that will have the NRC as principal partner,
NSE Ikeja Branch as operating partner, with FIIRO as technical partner, and will address the revitalisation of the foundry of the NRC to be operated by the Legacy Company of NSE, Ikeja Branch,” he said.
He said that the production would be patented for commercialisation while relying on NRC to identify needed spare parts.
According to him, the working group must be able to fine-tune the framework for engagement and set date and guidelines for signing of the final MOU.
The Acting Director-General of FIIRO, Mrs Agnes Asagbra, said that FIIRO had a mandate to ensure industrialisation of Nigeria, using local materials.
Asagbra said that FIIRO had several foundries that could be used.
She expressed the optimism that Nigeria’s railway sector would evolve to world-class with collaborations to commercialise research works.
She said that FIIRO was into prototypes and had been training and retraining fabricators to ensure manpower development and capacity for local manufacturing.
“This collaboration is definitely going to go places,” she said.
The Leader of the working group, Mr Rotimi Olubowale from the Ikeja Branch of NSE, said that effective railway transportation was important for the growth of the nation.
He pledged commitment of the group to effective collaborations to achieve desired results.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the working group had five members each from NSE, FIIRO and NRC, with the team leader as the 16th member. (NAN)