The Nigerian Railway was constructed between 1898 and 1927 and extended to
Before the 19th century, the single-track narrow-gauge rail network ran diagonally across the country, it was well able to haul all the agricultural products grown in the far north to the seaports at
However, further development of the railways was abandoned in favour of road transport by successive governments. Roads were expanded without any consideration of the attendant effects such as road traffic accidents, pollution, congestion, parking, etc. Some highways were constructed parallel to railway lines, resulting in competition rather than a complementary role between road and rail transport. The differences in allocation of funds for railway and road transport by the government, and this trend still haunts railway development today.
Railway construction further increased between 1901-1910, Ibadan-Jebba (295 km); 1907-1911, Kano-Baro (562 km); 1909-1915, Jebba-Minna (252 km); 1914-1916, Port-Harcourt-Enugu (243 km); and 1922-1927, Kafanchan-Jos (179 km). The general objectives of the Nigerian Railway have been the carriage of passengers and goods in a manner that will offer full value for money, meet cost of operation, improve market share and quality of service, ensure maximum efficiency and meet social responsibility. As indicated in the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act of 1955, the main purpose of transforming the Nigerian railway from a government department to a corporation was to maintain an efficient rail transportation system for effective bulk carriage of goods and passengers. But, unfortunately, successive governments, thus making it impossible for the management to achieve its set goals, have grossly neglected the railway system. A few weeks ago, about 7500 employees of the Nigerian Railway Corporation were retrenched to pave the way for effective reconstruction of the old parastatal. Since then, expectation has been high on the preparations for revamping the rail mode as matter of urgency. But, very little has happened. Apart from the comprehensive renovation of the headquarters offices at Ebute Metta,
Unfortunately, in spite of the obvious benefits of railway transportation, The technical problems of such as tight curves, steep gradients, rail buckling with associated track/speed limits appeared, again, Poor communications, Government interference with management structure, Lack of freedom to set tariffs, under-funding, Falling rolling stock levels, Plummeting traffic levels (freight and passenger), Inflexible bureaucracy, Volatile and militant labour union, Irregular staff training, Worn-out infrastructure and Lack of maintenance killed our rail transport system. It was observed that further development was more or less stultified between 1927 and 1958- a period of thirty-one years. It was not until 1958 with the construction of Kafanchan to Bauchi line (238 km) that work resumed on the rail system. This was followed within 1961–1964 with the Bauchi-Maiduguri line (302km). This brought the total rail route of the Nigerian Railway Network to 3505 km (and if sidings are included, to 4,332 km), the broaden construction went with a 32 km line of 1067mm gauge from Iddo (Lagos State) to Otta (Ogun State), which was further extended to Ibadan covering a total of 193 km in 1901.
Between 1995 and 1999, a whooping contract of $500 million was awarded to a Chinese firm, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to rehabilitate the existing rail, supply 50 locomotives, 150 coaches, 400 wagons and 20 rail buses and provide technical training for the railways staff. The substandard rail locomotives, wagon and coaches supplied by the Chinese firm, however, were not fit for later use. The same China Civil Engineering Constriction Company has again been awarded a whopping $8.3b contract to rehabilitate the rail system. Despite the shoddy work done and substandard locomotives supplied,
Ex- president Olusegun Obasanjo flaged off the first phase of the estimated N325billion or $2.5b modernization and expansion programme for Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), the one-century old hemorrhaging corporation would have gulped more than N400billion in the last ten years of its operation. The initiative was aimed at fostering rapid technological change through a three-way alliance, involving the federal government, private sector and China in a concession strategy expected to reduce government investments in the sector and enhance the railway corporation’s competitive edge in providing safe, reliable and efficient rail services for the country. The blueprint of the award included; 3 Nos. Longitudinal Lines,
Prominently attention was dedicated to railway transformation during the recent visit of the Chinese leader to
Similarly, and in furtherance of the programme to develop the rail sector, Romanian Project for the supply of Rolling Stock and Workshop equipment (1986 – 1996) but inconclusive; before a bilateral pact was signed in 1995 with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation [CCECC]. Under the agreement, the Chinese experts were expected to rehabilitate railway lines, renew signals and reinforce bridges. The contract awarded at a cost of $528 million, about N45 billion, also involved the supply of rolling stock, locomotives and other essential railway equipment. The assignment collapsed. The reasons for the failure of both the Indian and Chinese rail reconstruction contracts have been attributed to the Nigerian factor of corruption at the apex of government.
A fundamental action in the reactivation of the Nigerian Railway is the desirability of repealing the Nigeria Railway Act of 1955 which confers absolute monopoly right on government to run the railways and forbids any form of private sector participation in rail services delivery in the country.
In 1980, the railway under the NRC comprised a total of 3505km route of 1067mm gauge. This was considered narrow when compared with the broad gauge that measures 1435 ton or 4ft 81/2 inches. The aim of the NRC was to promote