BY PRINCELY ONYENWE, IMO
Group under the aegies of south East leadership forum has called on the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon.Chibuike Amaechi to revive the railway lines in the South East states of Nigeria.
The group spokes person however stated that rail lines that cut across Abakiliki in EBONYI state, Enugu state to ABIA, Imo state to Rivers, Delta state to cross River and Benin have all gone comatose and forgotten.
While speaking with 9News Nigeria, the group have exposed the continued negligence of Government through the transportation minister to keep the rail lines in total disrepair till date.
They lamented on the sole interest of Government in the Northern part of this country while the south are under developed.
‘There are no good roads in the South East states, no functional RAILWAYS, lack of social amenities, redundant refineries in Portharcourt and Warri, no Agro farms, Nkalagu Cement closed down, no industrial development to say the least.
Meanwhile the take-off of the cattle train shuttle from Gusau, Zamfara State, to Lagos signals the Nigerian Railway Corporation’s (NRC) determination to drive the marketing side of agriculture to boost the economy only in the North and West. But what happened to the South and East? Does the south have no representatives and senators? Why has this anomaly continued?
Information revealed to us was that the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) resumed cattle train service with the delivery of 500 cows and rams from the North to Oko-Oba, Agege Lairage in Lagos. There are no extension to the South not to the East.
Over 30 years ago, this rail service was suspended but resuscitated by the Nigeria Incentives-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).
It began with the movement of 500 cattle under its Farm-to-Market scheme from Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, to Lagos last Thursday.
The 15-wagon train, which took off from Gusau at about 4am on Friday, arrived at the Iju Train Station at about 3.30 pm on Saturday, after stopping at Minna, Niger State, Ibadan, Oyo State and Ifo, Ogun State. The journey lasted 36 hours as against the three days it usually takes to transport the cattle by road.
The departure was witnessed by Zamfara State Deputy Governor Alhaji Ibrahim Wakkala, officials of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and representatives of international development partners and international finance institutions.
Among persons at the Iju station to welcome the train were Managing Director of Connect Rail Service, Edeme Kelikume, representatives of banks, other private sector players, livestock traders, some NRC officials led by the Director of Operations, Niyi Alli; representatives of NIRSAL and the leadership of the Oko-Oba Cattle Traders Association.
Southern and Eastern RAILWAYS should be made functional to Improve the zones to enable the people tap from the dividends of democracy in Nigeria.
The group however wondered what the minister of transportation and his colleagues are doing than to stagnate the southern roads and railway lines.
‘Put the eastern RAILWAYS in good order before your tenure expires @Minister of Transportation” the group has requested.
9News Nigeria (Owerri)
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