It’s no secret that President Muhammadu Buhari is obsessed about reviving Nigeria’s railway system. I don’t think there has ever been a president who was fixated on the railway system like president Buhari.
It is instructive to note that the near collapse of the railway system had put massive pressure on the roads , hence the need for the constant maintenance of most of the roads .
In 2016,President Buhari commissioned the Abuja – Kaduna railway. The project was conceptualised by the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006, execution of the project started in 2009 under the regime of the administration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Buhari completed the project.
The railway has become a transportation of choice for most commuters as kidnappers have virtually taken over the Abuja , Kaduna road .
Similarly, after more than three decades delay, President Buhari in September last year inaugurated the 326 KM Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line for commercial operation as well as the ancillary facilities yard at the recently named Goodluck Jonathan Railway Complex in Agbor (Owa-Oyibu), Delta State.
At the virtual opening of the rail line linking Itakpe to Warri, President Buhari directed the Federal Ministry of Transportation to link all the nation’s ports of origin and destination – Apapa, Tin Can, Warri, Onne, Calabar Ports – to the rail network in order to significantly improve overall transportation and economic capacities.
Recall also that Abuja Metro Line was launched on 12 July 2018. The Rail is a regional rail transport system in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. It is the first rapid transit system in the country and in West Africa and the second such system in sub-saharan Africa (after Addis Ababa Light Rail).
In February this year, president Buhari flagged off the $1.96bn Nigeria-Niger rail project. He performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kano – Dutse – Jibia (Katsina State} – Maradi 284 Km rail project connecting Kano in Nigeria to Maradi in Niger Republic, virtually.
The project, with 15 stations along the corridor, is expected to be completed in the next three years and would boost socio-economic activities in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states in Nigeria as well as Maradi in Niger Republic.
On Thursday, President Buhari inaugurated the commercial operations of Lagos-Ibadan railway project at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station, Ebute Metta, Lagos, describing the feat ‘‘as another milestone in the drive of this Administration to revitalize the railway system and establish it as a choice mode of transportation for both passengers and freight.’’
The President pledged that his administration would continue to prioritise the railway system as a transportation backbone that can transform industrial and economic activity in the country.
On the benefits of the Lagos-Ibadan corridor as well as other on-going railway projects across the country, President Buhari said:
‘‘This vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos – Ibadan, as goods to the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.
‘‘In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have in the rail sector, further to other ongoing railway infrastructure projects, embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos – Kano railway, which is Ibadan – Kano.
‘‘The Lagos – Kano railway project when completed will link the Kano – Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in Niger Republic will be achieved.
‘‘The connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.
‘‘This would be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation.’’
The President expressed delight that his directive to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance on reaching financial agreements with appropriate co-financiers to partner with the Federal Government for the development of the Ibadan – Kano railway was yielding results.
He noted that Ibadan-Kano project would have a connection to the Tin Can Island port as well as the West – East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
‘‘From the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves and various milestones have been reached, right from when the Abuja – Kaduna railway was flagged-off for commercial operation in 2016 to this Lagos – Ibadan railway project being commissioned today for full commercial operation,’’ he said.