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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs