The bill allows the private sector to build, operate and maintain the 3557km of 1067mm-gauge infrastructure which is currently the guise of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC). The bill has been sent to the National Assembly for debate and final approval before it is implemented.

NRC says it requires private investors and modern technical expertise to revive Nigeria's poorly-maintained railway, which consists of two main lines from Lagos to Nguru and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.

Nigerian presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, said the railways bill is part of the Cabinet Committee's report on the draft transport sector reform bills. "The existing laws governing the transport sector are mainly public sector driven and largely constrained by limited autonomy, conflicting and sometimes overlapping functions," he says.

The approval of the bill now revives the delayed plans for three separate concessions of 25-30 years for private firms to operate the western, central and eastern railway corridors.