Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, weekend, urged the Federal Government to step up the revival of rail system in the country for efficient and effective transportation of goods and services rather than procurement of coaches alone.
The governor spoke when he led some members of the State Executive Council (SEC) on an inspection of the abandoned Nigerian Railway Corporation Port Work Yard at Marine Beach Apapa, Lagos,where coaches and derelict rail tracks are lying fallow.
The yard it was gathered, served as the middle point for distribution of goods, especially petroleum products up till mid 80s when it was constructed by the colonialists.
According to Fashola, the prevailing challenges facing road transportation in Apapa axis necessitated the visit aimed at assessing the opportunities that could be harnessed vis-a-viz reducing the dependence on road for transportation of goods out of Lagos.
He said: “This was where goods were evacuated and transported by rail, so we did not need to fuel, and kill people on the road. That is why we have tankers, containers taking over the road instead of the rail transport system. We came here to the maintenance yard to see what really the situation is and how we can get this back working and let the Federal Government hopefully, see what we are seeing and the best way we can make it useful to the economy. I do not know the last time it worked, I do not know what work they do but it is (rail system) clearly a connection between a robust and reliable means of transportation and also economic growth.
“This is industrial sector; this is where the oil and gas sector is and goods and services. The Unipetrol tankers and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, used to move petroleum products in this country through this point. That is what we must get back to. I came here to get a feel of the reality, and look at the way forward and the way forward is that this is a matter within the authority of the Federal Government this is their asset. I will send a report of what I have seen, what is possible and what realities are and what we can do with it. So, it is not enough to buy coaches and say you have revived rail, how many coaches are running?, and until we can move heavy cargoes, containers, fuel on our existing rail networks, then we are far from it, that is economic transformation. So, we cannot abandon this project.”