A Bill to improve Nigeria’s transport industry by reviving the railway system passed a second reading by the Senate yesterday.
The Bill is titled: “An Act to Repeal the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and to enact the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act 2013 for the efficient railway system in Nigeria and other matters”.
The Bill which was committed to the Committee on Land and Transport for further legislative work and expected back in plenary in two weeks.
In the lead debates, sponsor of the Bill, Senator Emmanuel Andy Uba said it is aimed at re-establishling the railway as a key driver in the transport sector by transforming the Nigeria Railway Corporation from a non- performing and debt ridden corporation to a dynamic player in the transport sector through strategic investments new policies initiatives and encouragement of private sector investment.
According to him,”there is no doubt that a Railway Act that meets the current realities is long overdue and this bilk seeks to address the existing deficiencies in the existing Act and bring the law that administers railways in conformity with present day realities and International best practices”
Senator Uba lamented that the Nigerian Railway Corporation which used to be an effective and cheaper means of transportation for carriage of goods and passengers in the early 60s and 70s has been terribly neglected and even abandoned.
He further explained that the country has a lot of benefits to derive from the revival of the railway transport system, which ensures cheaper transportation of persons, goods and animals which in turn brings about lowering of the cost of living within the country.
He added that the passage of the Bill will amongst other things fast track the country’s economy and generate 20,000 skilled jobs and about 40,000 semi-skilled jobs nationwide and will also provide a legal framework for the most effective, affordable, energy saving and environmentally friendly form of transportation of foods and services across the country.
He said: “One of the causes of damages to our roads is the frequent use of the roads by heavily loaded long trucks. This is vividly evident on Lokoja to Abuja road an d many other roads in the country.
“The revival of the railway transportation system will take a lot of these long and heavy vehicles, tankers and trailers off our major highways thereby prolonging the lives of these roads and drastically reducing the cost of maintenance.
“When a good number of these heavy vehicles are taken off the roads, there is bound to be greater safety on the roads. The heavy and long vehicles have been and still the cause of accidents on our roads leading to loss of lives and property.
“Railway services in Nigeria were effective in areas where they were operating, therefore bringing the Nigerian Railways back on track is very important.
“It is noteworthy that the impact of the railway on the development of the Nigerian economy was such that it enhanced the exportation of ground nuts from about 10,000 tons in 1912 to an average of 40,000 tons per annum during the following decade.”