Transport experts doubt Amaechi’s trending assurance of new 20 locomotives in July
In what may be a fall out of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi’s failed promise during his first 100 days in office as Minister that before the end of last year, a new national shipping carrier would be floated by the federal government, many industry observers have flayed his latest assurance that come July this year, the nation would be boosting of additional 20 locomotives for the consolidation of the railway sub sector.
The minister had told a group of journalists that by the middle of July this year, the Nigerian railways system will have at least 20 locomotives running.
Amaechi in an interview with editors of ‘The 2017 Nigeria Outlook’, a new economic and business annual set to make its debut in May, said “By the middle of July we should be having 20 locomotives. Our desire is that by the end of next year, you will see trains almost everywhere, as it used to be before,” he was quoted to have said.
Continuing, Amaechi said come May 29, 2019, one sure deliverable that Nigerians would appreciate the Muhammadu Buhari presidency for is an elaborate network of nationwide rail transport system that works.
Though the Minister was silent on the observed sidelining of the entire South East in the ongoing regional development of railway transport, he said the achievement of this target was central to attainment of effective distribution of farm produce and other goods to major towns and cities, with the resultant effect of affordable pricing of foodstuff.
Amaechi said “What that does is that the moment the trains are everywhere, as it used to be in the past, then you will see that prices of foodstuff would come down. Just like we did about two months ago, we crashed the price of tomatoes. The moment that happens, in Lagos and all over the states, the cost of transportation will crash”.
Since the inclusion of the Lagos-Calabar railway scheme in the 2017 national budget, the recent approval and resumption of works on both the Lagos-Ibadan for South West region and Kano-Kaduna railway for the North, opinion leaders in the South East who have presented the proposal of Onitsha-Aba new railway scheme to the government have been aggrieved due to government’s official silence on the matter.
Many of them who spoke to Business Hilights say it is painful because even if the region did not gain from the railway projects which is more annoying, South East will either by commission or omission follow in paying back the loan for the scheme because when deductions are made at source, it will affect monthly allocations of all states both benefiting and losers.