By MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
There is a plan by the National Assembly (NASS) of Nigeria to ensure that the railway system in the country is linked to the airports.
Senator Buhari Abdulfatai, Chairman, National Assembly Joint Committee on Land Transportation, disclosed the plan on Thursday when he led members of the committee to assess the level of investment in the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway Modernization project.
“In fact, I’ll tell you again that there is even a plan that just like the developed world you will see the linkage between the rail even to the airport, so that it will make it so, so easy. All these things take money,” the senator said.
He said that he supports taking loan to execute developmental infrastructure, and stressed that when there is proper utilization of loan for development the reward is huge, as such the spending would be recovered in future.
Abdulfatai pointed out that what is important is ensuring proper maintenance of the railway infrastructure and equipment, in order to lay down a foundation for the future generations.
According to the NASS committee leader, the management of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) led by Engr. Fidet Okhiria has been able to accomplish the feat of railway modernization in the country because the National Assembly appropriated the money.
Abdulfatai explained that the purpose of their tour of the infrastructure site is to find out how well the budget for the project was spent.
He was happy that the managing director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation said that “last year they got 100 per cent release based on what we approved.”
According to him, the result of the 100 release of the approved budget and its proper spending is the reason for the impressive activities on the project. “You can see the developmental structures are going on well,” Abdulfatai stressed.
He commended the management of Nigerian Railway Corporation for judicious use of fund, assuring that the corporation deserves to get more funding to achieve more.
“In a matter of weeks the budget will be coming to the National Assembly, and then we are here to see what has happened to the budget of last year, ask how they have gone, and to see when they are bringing another one; and we’re on the spot check, so when they bring the budget we’ll be able to do a thorough assessment of the past and be able to plan for the future. So far so good.
“That’s the conclusion of it, because they have really done well. We don’t want to start doing something so that it will look as praise-singing,” the NASS Joint Committee on Land Transport chief declared.
Abdulfatai highlighted the progress made so far in the development of the railway system in Nigeria. He said: “Lagos-Ibadan is now running four times. Look at it – Itakpe-Warri is now running. Abuja to Kaduna is running perfectly. In fact somebody said it that you will see top generals, House of Representatives members, senators coming to enter rail instead of using their cars on the roads, probably because of security and it can also be because of convenience just as it’s happening in the developed world.”
From NRC headquarters, members of the Committee, accompanied by Okhiria, visited the Nigerian seaport environment in Apapa aboard standard gauge rail train.