The intention of the President Muhammadu Buhari led federal government to give priority to the revival and improvement of the railway mode of transportation has been made known beyond mere rhetoric.
Shortly after assuming power, the federal government left no one in doubt about its commitment to railway development when it completed and commissioned the Abuja-Kaduna railway line.
Today, the Abuja-Kaduna railway line which runs on a standard gauge track, has gone a long way in providing transportation between two important cities in northern Nigeria.
In the same vein, the federal government has made its commitment to ensure it completes the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line by the second quarter of 2019.
Minister of Transport, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi stated this at the ground- breaking ceremony to mark the commencement of the construction of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge railway system with an extension to the Lagos port complex, Apapa by His Excellency, the Acting President, professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) (GCON) in Lagos on Tuesday, March 6, 2017.
According to the Minister, “the scope of the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Project …involves ancillary facilities which includes construction of eight railway stations and Apapa and Ebute-Metta and Intermediate stations at Agege, Kajola, Papalanto, Abeokuta, Omi-Adio.
The station at Olodo is a passing station while the station at Ibadan is an intermediate station with technical operation.
The services for locomotive workshop, rolling stock depot and marshalling yards will be located at Kajola, Ogun state.
“The extension of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line to the Lagos sea port will significantly enhance the export and import trade of the country. This project is multi-functional for both passenger and freight services connecting three states-Lagos, Ogun and Oyo.
“This line is based on traffic volume forecast of over 3.2 million tons of goods/cargoes per annum, while the passenger services can take 16 pairs of passenger trains.
The railway line in the nearest future will be extended from Ibadan to Ilorin, Minna, Kaduna and Kano and will link the Federal Capital Territory via Kaduna”.
Also, the federal government has pledged its readiness to ensure the Lagos-Calabar railway line becomes a reality within the shortest possible time.
The Federal Government and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the execution of the 11.12 billion-dollar Lagos-Calabar railway project.
Amaechi signed the agreement on behalf of the government, while the President of CCECC, Cao Baogang, signed for the company in Abuja.
In another development, United States of America giant, General Electric, have also shown interest in investing into the rebuilding of the local railway infrastructure.
In all these, we see a federal government that is committed to building from where past governments left.
These projects are bound to generate employments, transfer technology, improve the economy and provide cheaper means of transportation for the people. These are all commendable.
Government should ensure that Nigerians take charge of the running of the railway system in the long run.