This is why the Lagos-Calabar rail project will only amplify Nigeria’s long history of abandonment


As part of the railway restoration project in Nigeria, the Senate has been in conflict with the federal government over the reconstruction of the Lagos-Calabar rail roads. This project is hardly a recent a development, according to Sahara Reporters, the contract for the Lagos-Calabar rail was signed in November 2014 and is supposed to be constructed by the China Railway Construction Corporation. However, funding the project seems to be the genesis of the present conflict between the Presidency, the Minister of Transport (Chibuike Amaechi) and the Senate.

While the Presidency has claimed that the National Assembly (NASS) excluded the allocation for the rail project from the controversial national budget, the NASS also accused the Presidency of the same omission, asking them to admit their fault. “But the executive should admit it made a mistake. It’s just for somebody to admit there is an error. Why shouldn’t you ask why it was not in original budget? Why is it wrong to admit error when you committed a mistake?” asked Senator Abdullahi Aliyu, while speaking to Premium Times.

Previously, the NASS asked Amaechi, who is solely responsible for the construction of roads and other means of travel within the country, to apologise if he could not prove that the Lagos- Calabar rail project was included in the 2016 budget. The senators also added that if he failed to apologise, then he should resign “forthwith.” But with the unfolding drama and all the parties involved, one may be forced to ask why the Lagos-Calabar rail project is causing such a stir anyway.

Why is there so much commotion over ONE rail project?

The way the National Assembly is raving over the Lagos-Calabar rail project will definitely raise questions about whether this is the only one the nation has. But we all know the truth, there are countless others. The rail project in question reportedly costs $11.7 billion dollars, that is a quite an expensive project to take on for the government of a struggling economy like Nigeria. If the parliamentarians fail to see this, then, they may be advocating for the project for dishonest gain.

It is laudable that some steps are being taken to revamp the railway system in Nigeria; however, noting that the country can hardly afford it for now, it is time for the NASS to investigate ongoing rail projects before taking another expensive one on.

The Monorail project in Port Harcourt, Rivers State which has been under construction since 2010, is still yet to be completed, there is no reason why the senate cannot revisit this and make the necessary investigations as to why it is so. The immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed a N67 billion contract for the rehabilitation of the 2,119 kilometres Eastern rail lines. Are they fully functional now?

There seems to be too much of a hurry to start an expensive project in Nigeria and abandon it even before it’s halfway finished. Instead of being at loggerheads with the Presidency, the Senate should step up to its true potential and serve as a panel for accountability.

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