Yesterday at the plenary session of the 10th Senate, Distinguished Senator Ajagunla Olubiyi Fadeyi, representing the good people of Osun State Central Senatorial District drew the attention of the Senate President, His Excellency, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio CON and distinguished senators of the hollow chamber to a matter of national importance.
The Harvard Senior Executive Fellow, while speaking at the floor of the Senate, expressed concern and called for an urgent need to declare a State of Emergency on the looming revenue crisis about to befall Nigeria Railway Modernisation Project.
“Whereas, Nigeria possesses a well-established rail infrastructure, including a rail line from Abuja to Kaduna, Lagos to Ibadan and a light rail system connecting Abuja city center to Abuja airport; yet alarming information in the public domain reveals that Railway-related debt service costs the Federal Government of Nigeria $62.66 million in the first quarter of this year .
“Attacks on trains conveying passengers and rail infrastructure is taking a toll on Nigeria’s rail sector, which has recorded a decline of 125.6 percent in passenger movement in the second quarter of 2022, the National Bureau of Statistics’ Rail Transportation data has shown.
“There is no doubt in my mind that effective utilization of these rail systems can contribute significantly to the reduction of traffic congestion, environmental pollution, and travel time; but the current dilemma of the nation is that the total debt service on the railway projects rose by 1.50 percent or $930,000 year-on-year as the $62.66 million reported in Q1 2023 surpassed the $61.73 million spent on debt service during the same period in 2022”, he added.
Senator Ajagunla Fadeyi moved the motion for the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to setup an ad hoc committee to investigate and carry out an oversight of our rail project viability and ensure that the revenue generation structure is fit for purpose.
He added that Nigerians need urgent action to rescue this rail project and guarantee that it is a viable national project that is not adding more national debt but generating the revenue to make the project successful and also attracting more Nigerians to use the service.
Prayer according to Distinguished Senator Ajagunla Olubiyi Fadeyi are:
a. Investigation and Summon of the Ministry of Transportation and Nigeria Rail Corporation over Nigeria Railway Modernisation Project Management.
b. Urgent Review of Nigeria Railway Modernisation Project to enhance passenger’s safety and security, increase revenue generation, boost passengers’ attendance.
c. Nigerians want a revamp of our security arrangement for the rail industry similar to British Transport Police and enactment of viable law to protect the railway infrastructure.
d. Collaboration between the relevant security agencies and stakeholders to protect railway assets because there is an ongoing black market of rail steel and infrastructure destruction.
e. Establish security awareness campaigns to educate passengers on safety protocols and encourage community vigilance in reporting suspicious activities.
f. Develop effective last-mile connectivity solutions to bridge the gap between rail stations and the final destinations, such as shuttle services.
g. Conduct extensive public awareness campaigns in local language to educate citizens about the benefits of using the light rail and rail line, emphasizing cost-effectiveness, reduced travel time, and environmental sustainability.
h. Encourage partnerships with private sector entities to introduce loyalty programs, discounts, and incentives for frequent rail users.
i. Institute a monitoring and evaluation framework to regularly assess the progress and effectiveness of the measures implemented particularly the senate oversight of this project.