Federal Government, in Abuja, yesterday, said about 3,318 kilometers of rail lines are being considered across the country.
This came as stakeholders insisted that unless Africa is linked by a railway network, a projected boost in intra-African trade, as envisaged under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), would remain a mirage.
Speaking at an International Railway Conference, organized by the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), the stakeholders, noted that the continent must prioritize railways if it must address growing poverty, unemployment, and a weak economic outlook.
Minister for Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, said the Federal Government has conducted feasibility studies on selected route alignments it considered viable for development.
The proposed route alignments, according to him, are Zaria-Funtua-Gusau-Kaura Namoda-Sokoto-Illela-Birnin Koni, which is 520km; Lagos-Ibadan-Oshogbo-Baro-Abuja, 615km; Ilela-Sokoto-Jega-Yauri-Makera, about 408km; Aba-Ikpene-Ibiono-Itu (Spur Uyo) Odudukpani-Calabar, about 340km, Calabar-Ikom-Obudu-Ogoja-Wukari-Yola-Maiduguri, 1,068km and Kano-Nguru-Gashua-Damaturu-Ngala, which is 707km.
The total network expansion is at about 3,318 kilometers.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, Mu’azu disclosed that a 25-year strategic railway plan for Nigeria had suffered setbacks due to discrepancies in government policies; inadequate funding of the rail sector and the absence of experienced private investors, among others.
He noted that the current administration deserves commendation for efforts on railway development.
Also, the President of ACCI, Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, said railway development in Africa demands urgent attention. He noted that the railway remains a climate-smart and efficient way to move people and freight.
Quoting an African Business Forum report, he said over 25 percent of intra-African trade gains in services would go to transport alone; and nearly 40 percent of the increase in Africa’s services production would be in transport under AfCFTA.
He said: “According to the research findings, AfCFTA requires 1,844,000 trucks for bulk cargo and 248,000 trucks for container cargo by 2030. This increases to 1,945,000 and 268,000 trucks, respectively, if planned infrastructure projects are also implemented.
“The largest demand for trucks to support AfCFTA is within West Africa (39 percent); demand from West to Southern Africa is 19.8 percent; and from Southern Africa to Western Africa, 9.9 percent.
“This conference will focus on the discourse surrounding major issues such as needed financing, the imperative of continental railway standardization, and the urgency of closer economic bloc collaboration in the railway development process in Africa.”
Source: The Guardian