Rail Conference: Nigeria’s Ambitious Rail Plan- Transportation Minister

It is with high sense of humility and honour that I welcome you all to this 2nd Edition of International Railway Conference organized by my esteemed Ministry in collaboration with Abuja Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Therefore, it is my pleasure to present my viewpoints on the Theme “Powering AFCFTA with Sustainable Railway

This topic could not have come at a better time than now when the Country is fully committed to developing the Railway Transportation sector to provide alternative mode and also complement other modes of transportation. No doubt you will all agree with me that railway transportation is practically the commonwealth of the masses all over the world as it provides the most important linkage in inter-modal transportation system. It is a safe, fast, affordable and reliable means
for movement of passengers and freight in large quantities.

I would like to draw our attention to the memory lane of the Nigerian Railways evolution, progress made and where we are going as well as what has characterized the system we find in existence today.

The Railway in Nigeria commenced in 1892 with full commercial services from Lagos-Ibadan in 1898, and by 1964, Nigeria had built a network of narrow gauge rail lines totaling 3,505 Km. The peak period of railway operation was In 1984 when the number of passenger traffic reached 12 million and 3 million tons of freight was transported. This favorable condition was experienced up till late 80s after which the focus on the Railway system dropped sharply and the development was highly neglected by Government being is the primary operator. The operations and expansion of railway networks later became comatose and no longer running after two (2) decades. The Railway Corporation itself, the primary operators of railways by Government became redundant.

It was in 2009 that the Government commenced the implementation of the 25 Year Strategic Vision for the development of the Nigerian Railways which was approved by the Federal Executive Council in the year 2002 to revive the sector. The vision plan centres into the following three pillars with the aim to bringing the sector into 21* Century expectation:

i. The First Phase which is Nigerian Railway System Transition era was to be implement between 2002 and 2007. This period entails complete rehabilitation & reconstruction of the deteriorated Narrow Gauge rail lines which consists of the Western (1,621Km track) and Eastern (1,884Km track) rail lines. The restructuring of both the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and its management is necessary to revamp and sustain the development of the systems. In pursuance of this, the Federal

Ministry of Transportation (FMoT) has submitted two Bills to the

National Assembly for:

a) Nigerian Railway Authority (NRA) Act; and
b) National Transport Commission (NTC) Act:

Training and retraining of the entire staff of the Ministry, NRC including Engineers, Technicians, Administrative Officers, Economists, etc. will become imperative in tandem with the new trends and developments in the railway industry. The phase will also involve development of domestic capacity for the production of rail materials with the construction of Rolling Stock Factories, etc. will be put in place to support the development and sustenance of the changes in the railway systems.

ii. The Second Phase which is the Nigerian Rail System Modernization was to be implemented between 2002 and 2015. During this periods, the development of the standard gauge railways will commence and continue to connect all the capital cities, commercial centres, minerals and agricultural centres in the country. Construction of new standard gauge rail lines and extensions of some existing ones will continue and be complemented with modernization of its operation system and e assets. This will include signalling, railway station, and other = ancillary facilities within railway corridor, etc. Establishment of specialized Institutions for National Railways to guarantee capacity building in terms of technology transfer will continue.

iii. The Third Phase is the System Stabilization period (i.e, between 2016 — 2027). During this period, it is envisaged that completion of prioritized standard gauge railways must have taken place along with further constructions of extended rail lines to Strategic sites/locations. Finally, all the rail fines will be concessioned to the private sector for operations and management.

However, the full implementation of the vision plan has suffered setback due to discrepancies in Government policies; inadequate funding of the rail sector; absence of adequate, capable and experienced Private Investors amongst others.

Meanwhile, the present Administration upon assumption of office since 2015 has taken railway development as one of its cardinal projects to ensure that it actualizes its infrastructure development Master Plan. Among the giant achievements recorded presently are;

i . Completed and currently in operation, the 1st and 2nd segments of Lagos – Kano Standard Gauge;

ii. the ongoing rehabilitation & reconstruction of the existing Eastern narrow gauge Rail line with extension to Bonny Deep Seaport;

iii. Commenced construction of double track standard gauge fallway from Kaduna ~Kano which is the 77 segment of Lagos ~ Kano railway project;

iv. Commenced construction of the Kano – Maradi (Niger Republic) Standard Gauge railway with a branch line from Kano to Dutse;

v. Commenced preliminary studies on connection of the Lagos – Kano standatd gauge railway to TinCan Port and Lekki Deep Seaport;

vi Commenced construction of Rolling Stock and Wagon Assembly
Plant in Kajola, Ogun State;
Construction of Transportation University in Osura, Katsina State;

The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Is making concerted efforts at improving and sustaining Intra and Intercity Mass fransit Rail Services in the State Capitals along the rail corridor, notably “Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan Oshogbo, fforin, Minna, Kaduna and Kano,

Having identified the achievements, the Ministry has also conducted feasibility studies on some selected route alignments it considered
viable for development. Among the proposed railway route
alignments are;

i. Zaria — Funtua — Gusau — Kaura Namoda — Sokoto — illela — Birnin Koni (520Km);

ii. High Speed: Lagos-Ibadan-Oshogbo-Baro-Abuja (615km);

iii. Ilela – Sokoto — Jega — Yauri —Makera (408Km Approx.)

iv. Aba — Ikpene — Ibiono — Itu (Spur Uyo) Odudukpani — Calabar (340Km Approx.)

v. Calabar — Ikom -Obudu — Ogoja – Wukari – Yola – Maiduguri (1,068Km); and

iv. Kano — Nguru — Gashua – Damaturu – Ngala (707Km).

These milestone projects are the outcome of Mr. President’s
determination to develop, upgrade and modernize Nigerian Transport
pntvesructura, a well as the relentless push by the Ministry of transportation to fufly deliver on the Mr. President’s vision.

At this juncture, I wish to inform this honourable forum thet funding has been the major challenge hindering the Ministry from attainment of the needed rapid development in the railway sector. Therefore, to address this, injection of institutional or private Investor’s fund has to be contemplated either in form of direct foreign or focal investment on PPP basis or through concessionary or commercial loans.

Finally, let me reaffirm the commitment of the Federal Ministry of Transportation of Nigeria to pay full attention to the resolutions of the communique that may be reached in this event.

Thank you for listening.

Mu’zau Jaji Sambo
Honourable Minister

15 November, 2022


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