Amaechi speaks against politicisation of railway development

…says ethnicity is the bane of development in Nigeria

By Peter Usman://

Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has
identified what he called politicising of railway development as one
of the major challenges facing the country in the government’s effort
to stimulate the economy.

Amaechi said ethnicity is a big challenge to development in Nigeria,
noting that rail projects around the country are built with the
economy at the heart of it, because the economy should be the deciding
factor for such developments, not ethnic biases.

The Minister of Transportation, who was speaking as the guest
lecturer, at the annual Public lecture of the Department of Economics
at the University of Lagos on Friday said Transportation as a mode
involves logistics, and is responsible for driving the economy of

“Virtually everything we do involves Transportation. It is a key
element in driving development of economies all over the world, and it
creates possibilities for other sectors. Therefore, you can’t even
create employment if you don’t create logistics.

“Nigerians are too ethnically conscious. You think first as your
ethnicity before you think as a Nigerian. We have very few Nigerians,
and ethnicity is putting pressure on the economics of railway
construction. What you hear is, ‘I’m a Yoruba man, I’m an Hausa man,
I’m an Igbo man.’ The Yoruba man is happy that we have done
Lagos-Ibadan; the moment you do railway up to Enugu, the Igbo man
would be happy. I call it the politicisation of railway construction.

“Railway is fuelled by economic activities; it’s not fuelled by tribe.
What determines a railway construction is economics, how many tons of
cargo can be conveyed.

“Ethnicity is not the way to go. Those who fan the embers of ethnicity
are those who were benefitting from the government in the past, but
are no longer benefitting from the government,” he said

Amaechi also said financing is another challenge to railway
development as Nigerians keep complaining about loans.
“From the budget we are now constructing Kaduna-Kano rail line while
still negotiating the loan for Ibadan to Kaduna, because the plan is
Lagos to Kano.

So far, the Federal Government has laid out plans for the construction
of Lagos-Calabar at $11.1 billion, Ibadan-kano at $5.3 billion for
single track, Port Harcourt-Maiduguri at $3.02 billion for
reconstruction of narrow gauge, $12 to $13 billion for standard gauge
approved by the President with additional spurs, Abuja-Itakpe at $3.9
billion in addition to the central line; and Lagos-Ibadan completed at
$2 billion.

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