Nigeria seeking alternative funding to modernise railways — Minister
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, says Federal Government is leveraging alternative funding mechanism to rehabilitate old rail lines and modernise the rail system in line with its 25-year Strategy Vision.
Amaechi said this on Friday during the 2021 Annual Public Lecture organised by Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Science, University of Lagos, Akoka.
The theme of the lecture was “Nigeria’s National Rail Transport Project”.
According to him, federal government has recovered most of the failed locations on the Narrow Gauge corridor and also taking precautions in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the standard gauge corridors.
He said that all the new railway projects contracts were embedded with rich technology transfer clauses, capacity building and Conversational Skills Rating (CSRs) domestic appropriate knowledge and skill.
The minister said that establishment of rail projects was to reduce cost of transportation and boost economy, since economic activity drives development in any country.
He said that all the regions in the country would have been connected with rail transportation but for lack of sustainable funding plan, environmental issues, degenerated infrastructure, theft of railway materials and obsolete legal framework.
According to him, the railway project is affected by decline of requisite railway professionals, indiscriminate disposal of refuse of railway right of way by citizens among others.
The minister then appealed to community leaders and civil society organisations to join in the fight against vandalisation on railway infrastructure across the country.
In his welcome speech, Unilag Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said that efficient transportation would provide access to business and competitiveness in the region.
Ogundipe was represented by Prof. Oluwole Familoni, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic).
“When transport systems are efficient, they provide economic and social opportunities and benefits that result in positive multiplier effects such as better accessibility to market, employment, and additional investment.
“Availability of railway also plays an important role in reducing regional disparities and improving the competitiveness of region, by facilitating, trade movement of labour, and economies of scale.
“In vast country like ours, where the population are not only scattered all over the country but are also separated by desert, forest, valley and mountains efficient, reliable and cheap means of transportation like modern railway network are essential,” Ogundipe said.
The Dean, Faculty of Social Science, Prof. Olufunmilayo Bammeke, said that the ongoing modernisation of railway system would not only revitalize the mode of transportation but also invariably impact economic development in Nigeria.
“Although skepticism was high as President Buhari opened Nigeria’s first standard gauge railway modernisation project in 2016, now it has become clear that the government is committed not just to the revitalisation of the rail but to maintaining high international standards.
“From Abuja to Kaduna, Lagos to Ibadan and Warri to Itakpe, it has been stories of excitement, success and of course, challenges.
“There are more to come from what we have heard from the media, Kaduna to Kano, Ibadan to Kano, Lagos to Calabar etc,” Bammeke said.