Experts in transport development, under the auspices of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) commission, yesterday, said it was possible for governors, stakeholders, and other partners to achieve 4,000 kilometres of railway across the region in four years.
They urged the region to be proactive about the ongoing plan to develop railway infrastructure that will run across and connect all six South Western states in the next few years.
The experts, which include Commissioner-designate for Transportation in Ogun State, Gbenga Dairo; Special Adviser to Ondo State Governor on Transportation, Tobi Ogunleye; Director, Rail Transportation, Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Olasunkanmi Okusaga; Director General, DAWN Commission, Seye Oyeleye; Executive Director, Centre of Sustainable Mobility and Access Development (CenMAD), Dr. Kayode Opeifa; Osun State Commissioner For Works and Transport, Omowaye Oluremi, among others, said it is time for proactive action to develop the Southwest railway infrastructure instead of the previous jaw-jaw.
Speaking during a strategic meeting on Southwest Regional Rail Infrastructure, in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, the experts said it was possible and also doable for railway infrastructure to be built across South West states for easy transportation of goods and human beings if the governors have the political will to achieve it.
In his remarks, Opeifa, a former Commissioner of Transportation in Lagos State, said the South West states need to get serious about developing rail infrastructure if they hope to meet up with modern development.
Opeifa said the issue of developing railway infrastructure across the region is not about whether the states are ready or not, not about the issue of funding and it must not be seen or treated as a political matter and can be funded through budget.
Okusaga, on his part, said the region needs to have clear objectives of how it wants to achieve the project and its funding. He said a clear strategy must be designed to get the plan executed as soon as possible.
Ogunleye and Oluremi in their contributions expressed the readiness of their governors to support the project, saying if some states in the region could afford to construct airports, then nothing should stop the collective efforts of the governors to build railways.
Oyeleye in his comment noted that Nigeria’s population may rise by about 100 million in the next 10 years “To address the challenges of transportation this might generate, railway development infrastructure is the solution.”
The DAWN Commission DG added that stakeholders across the region and those in the diaspora should also key into the plan.
Director of Operations, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Niyi Alli, and Director, Centre for Multi-Modal Transport Studies, University of Lagos, Prof. Iyiola Oni, noted that it is unimaginable that Nigeria airports and sea ports are yet to be connected with railways.
Source: Guardian NG