News / Africa

    Nigeria ‘Reviving’ Railway System, Says Official

    FILE - Passengers rush to board train enroute Lagos-Kano at Mokwa Station on February 8, 2013.
    FILE - Passengers rush to board train enroute Lagos-Kano at Mokwa Station on February 8, 2013.
    Peter Clottey

    Nigeria’s Transport Minister says the administration has allocated funds and implemented strategic plans to revitalize the country’s railway system, which has been in a poor state for decades.

    Senator Idris Audu Umar said the government in Abuja has developed a 25-year plan as part of its effort to boost the railway system to improve the transportation of goods and services across the country.

    “This vision plan is being pursued assiduously in order to resuscitate a rather comatose railway system,” said Umar. “We were operating the manual signaling system before and that created problems. Today, the Federal Executive Council has approved the upgrading of the signaling system. Therefore we are now going to have a modern and upgraded telecommunication system on the railway lines.”

    He said there is a continued effort to ensure a strong public-private partnership to improve other aspects of the transportation sector, including marine and air transportation.

    He added that the administration has encouraged the private sector to take the lead role in developing the country’s ports after the government divested its interests.

    “As a matter of fact, all the ports that were initially owned by government have been concessioned out to [private] terminal operators,” said Umar. “We also have a policy of amortization where we give the private sector a greenfield they develop it then they recoup their investment through various services within the ports. [We are] encouraging the private sector to either develop some ports on their own or in collaboration with government.”

    Some analysts have over the years expressed concern about the country’s lack of investment in railway infrastructure, which they contend has led to poor patronage and hampered businesses that rely on trains to transport goods and services.

    Umar admits that previous administrations did not pay much attention to revamping the railway system in spite of the potential to boost agricultural and other businesses activities.

    Nigeria has two main railway lines; the Western lines, which starts from Lagos to Kano and the Eastern line, which starts from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.

    “Over 90 percent of the existing railway lines that is 3500 Kilometers are being rehabilitated; some have been completed, while others are at advanced stages of completion,” said Umar. “We are working assiduously to complete the rehabilitation of the track from Port Harcourt. By October this year the trains will be moving from Port Harcourt to Jos to Kafanchan up to Kaduna.”

    Some business experts say African governments have not been good at maintaining infrastructure despite heavy public funds investment. They argue that the investment could be a waste of tax payers’ money if the administration fails to ensure that there is an effective maintenance culture to regularly upgrade and improve the railway system.

    Minister Umar says the administration has an outsourcing plan that involves the private sector to maintain the trains and the entire railway system.

    Nigerians who have been patronizing the railway system have often complained about the lack of security, which they say leads to banditry and armed robberies on the trains. Umar says the police have been deployed to prevent attacks and protect life and property.

    “We’ve taken proactive measures [and] there is a detachment of the Nigerian Railway police in charge of security in each coach we have one or two policemen to maintain internal security within the coaches,” said Umar/ “We are looking at the possibilities of even partnering with private security outfits in order to fortify what the police are doing in order to maintain security.”

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora