By Maureen Ojinaka
Enugu, Sept. 24, 2020 Residents of Enugu on Thursday urged the Federal Government to revitalise the rail system of transportation, to ease the movement of persons and goods.
Some of the residents, who made the observation in separate interviews with journalists regretted that the rail sector had been neglected by successive governments over the years.
They advised the government to step up efforts to revive the sector, to lower the cost of transportation and reduce the cost of goods and services in the country.
Mr Felix Menakaya, a civil servant, said that the railway was the cheapest means of transportation between the 1970s and the early part of 1990s, before the story changed.
Menakaya stated that the bad situation of the Nigeria railway system had put undue pressure on the road and air systems of transportation, thus bringing about fare hikes by transport operators in these sectors.
He noted that most of the railway lines were desolate with many of the track facilities stolen and vandalised by hoodlums.
“If government can re-construct our railway lines, transportation will be cheaper and safer; there will be employment for many Nigerians and revenue generations will shoot up,” he said.
Another resident, Mr Linus Nzekwe, stated that the incessant attacks on the highways was because the hoodlums were always sure that Nigerians would always be on the road with their goods.
Nzekwe said that the rail transport system had a massive positive impacts on the economy in the 1980s, adding that the industry stimulated massive economic growth, making Nigeria a buoyant nation.
“So much noise is made about diversifying the economy, but we cannot do much if the railway system is not working,” he stated.
Mr Uzochukwu Emenike, a businessman, noted that it was time for governors of each region to come together and construct railway lines that could link states within the regions, to ensure efficient and affordable transportation.
Emenike urged governments at the state and federal levels to consider the safety of travellers, which was usually enhanced via railway movement.
“Aside the safety, we also have the advantage of generating more revenue and opening up job opportunities,” he said.
A former railway staff, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, blamed the decline in railway operations in the country on government’s lack of commitment to the system.
She noted that there was never a time in the history of any European country, or America, where railway transportation system suddenly stopped operating.
The ex-railway worker attributed the situation to corruption, saying that funds voted to revive the industry had often disappeared into the private pockets.