By Ginika Okoye
Abuja – No fewer than 20 private firms have indicated interest in the Federal Government’s silo concession plan, Mr Chidi Izuwah, the Acting Director of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), says.
Izuwah made this known on the sidelines of signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Federal Government and John Deere Tractor Manufacturing Company in Abuja on Thursday.
The acting director, who noted that the firm was notable across the world, said the move would improve the management of grains and reduce post harvest losses.
He said that it would also create wealth for farmers involved in grains production.
“We have about 30 silo complexes built by the Federal Government in the country and some of them are under-utilised and abandoned,’’ he said.
Izuwah said that although the Federal Government would concession about 22 silos, it had maintained the management of about two to four silos for its strategic grains reserve.
He said the concession would last for 10 years, adding: “we have worked with the strategic grains department of the ministry to run a competitive and transparent process to bring in private sector partners to come in and take over the silos, refurbish them and put them to use for post harvest management.
“This will significantly change the agricultural value chain because the government doesn’t have enough money to run them in terms of filling them with grains.
“So, we are going into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to bring some of the best people in the world to take over these silos and run them to the best of the country.
“This was started by the last administration and this administration continued with it because they saw the transparency of the process.
“We have certified it now so hopefully, within the next one month, it will go to the Federal Executive Council by law to be approved and once it is approved, we will reach commercial close and we set the implementation.
“I believe that within the next six months to one year, we will see the impact; the idea is to catch the next harvest season.
“This will improve service delivery and stop loss of grains.
“Of the about 30 silos, 20 are being concessioned, so there are about 20 firms involved in the concession for now but government kept about two or three of those silos for strategic grains reserve.
“If there is a food security issue somewhere, the government can release grains from there to serve the people.
“Concession is not transfer of asset. The asset remains the property of the government of Nigeria,’’ he said.
The acting director said the commission was also working with the Ministry of Aviation to work on the concession of airports, airport carriers and cargo airports, among others.
“We must create an infrastructure solution in Nigeria and the easiest way to do it is through PPP,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that ICRC was established to regulate PPP activities in Nigeria to address physical infrastructure deficit which hampers economic development.