Despite the milestone recorded in recent years in some parts of the country, the Nigerian railway networks, which ought to have eased the movement of passengers and goods across the country, have largely remained dormant for decades, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.
Over the years, different governments, especially after the return of democracy in Nigeria, had promised to revamp the comatose railway infrastructure. However, while there has been progress in some places in that regard, the move remains a pipe dream in others, even as many Nigerians are looking forward to a rewarding railway infrastructure.
Some people who understand the happenings in the railway subsector attributed the slow pace of progress to many factors, including poor funding, withdrawal of Chinese investors from some of the commitments they made over time, red-tapism, among others.
It is believed that with an efficient railway system, the cost of doing businesses in Nigeria will go down, while the lifespan of highways that are being overstretched by articulated vehicles will be longer.
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Nigerians, particularly those in their 70s and 80s, remember with relish, the advantages of the railway system in transporting goods to various places. It was the time when groundnuts, cocoa, grains and cattle, among others, were being transported with ease and at minimal costs. The rail system was also a choice means of travelling for families because of its efficiency and security.
In those days, railway transportation was the only means of commuting between the South and North, East and West with railway tracks crisscrossing the length and breadth of the country. There are also over 200 stations spread across Nigeria.
Petroleum products, goods and perishables were moved through the railway, and the number of trucks on the highways was minimal.
It, however, became an autonomous public corporation created by an act of parliament, the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act (1955), as amended 1990, with the general objectives of “carriage of passengers and goods in the manner that will offer full value and quality of service, ensure safety of operations and maximum efficiency; meet social responsibility in a manner that will meet the requirements of rail users, trade, commerce and the general public.’’