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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid