An efficient transport system is vital to socio-economic development in any given society and that includes rail transportation.
Research has shown that rail transport contributes significantly to the GDP of developed nations, but it seems quite the opposite in developing climes. For instance, Nigeria’s rail industry has been in shambles for donkey years. And, if rail infrastructure is so strategic to economic growth, it keeps one wondering why Nigeria’s rail system has suffered so much neglect. But with gradual revitalisation by the Buhari Administration, we can think of progress.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) was established as far back as the 1800s when the country’s first railroad was constructed under the British colonial government and has seen its glory days. But, like most other government parastatals, poor management and neglect by successive government administrations almost killed rail transportation in Nigeria. We only hear sweet words that do not match expected actions.
A recently published report has it that the “Abuja Light Rail (Central – Idu –Airport) has kicked off operations”. Pictures of the rail infrastructure have gone viral on social media and Nigerians are celebrating, describing it as a developmental stride in the country’s rail industry, but at the same time, dissatisfied that the development project was not extended to other geo-political regions of the country.
This has fuelled the ‘regional hate’ conversation as some parts of Nigeria feel cheated and are calling on the government to embark on a similar project across geopolitical zones.
See how Nigerians are reacting:
This is beautiful😍😍— Manuel Montero🏗🇳🇬 (@OkonkwoMakuoch4) August 30, 2020
🇳🇬🇳🇬 Nigerian metro systems all reviving..
It would be the best when these monorail in Calabar and River state are touched also pic.twitter.com/H9Hh15tiRD
This is one area where this administration is really 💯— D' ACCOUNTANT (@OG_umaru) August 30, 2020
Connect Lagos with east via rail— Obi Of Abakaliki🕘 (@mckingsx) August 30, 2020
Una no go hear
While the claims may be valid, another area we should be concerned about is the issue of sustainability, especially when we consider how government initiatives only last a few months. No doubt, poor management and lack of continuity are some of the major challenges that have plagued developmental projects in Nigeria.
For sustainability to be achieved in Nigeria’s rail industry, successive governments must ensure there is continuity in rail transport projects as well as proper management of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC). In addition to this, a public-private partnership may be strategic to the sustainability of rail infrastructure projects in Nigeria.