FG seeks self-sustaining railway, completes studies on 13 routes

It is important to have viable self-sustaining and self-improving railway service, the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has said.

Speaking in Lagos at the Ground Breaking Ceremony of the Segment II Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project with extension to Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, Osinbajo said Railway should not rely on Government funding “which may not  be available at all times”.

Osinbajo said: “It is important however to have viable self-sustaining and self-improving railway service. It should be one that is not reliant on government funding which may not  be available at all times. It should be one that could be upgraded and improved over time and not left to decay due to management issues or lack of attention. This is why the Federal Government supports the replacement of the 1955 Railway Act with a legal framework that opens railway projects in the country  for greater private sector participation. In this way, we expect to ensure the resources and management to run efficient modern and reliable train services.

“Just as several of our cities are being known as railway towns in the past, we expect a boost to economic activities along the railway lines that will eventually cut across the entire country.

“To achieve this objectives, the Federal Ministry of Transportation has completed visibility studies for up to 13 routes which has been identified for connecting state capitals and major commercials centers to the rail network. We should begin to see significant activities in this regard very shortly”.

He said the Federal Government  was committed to delivering a fast and efficient rail service system between Lagos and Ibadan within a projected time frame of December 2018.

He  recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, during his visit to China in January 2016, reopened negotiation on the Chinese support for the project under the Lagos-Kano modernization project.

He said the ground-breaking ceremony marked the commencement of the government’s plan to move speedily to improve transport links with Lagos, the national economic nerve centre and major port to other state capital across the country.

Osnbajo said: “Our ultimate goal is to restore a railway using culture for both commercial and personal transportation. We are confident that the national rail project will create up to half a million jobs and facilitate the movement of up to 3.2 million tonnes of cargo per annum.

“It will also reduce the burden on national high ways, thus reducing deterioration of the road networks and increasing the life span of our roads. Railway network will support efforts to diversify the economy and enhance our export potentials”.