Lethargic Economy: Integrated transport system as growth stimulant


The quest towards getting the Nigerian economy on the right track remains a dream many Nigerians look forward to. This dream however, must be premised on well crafted models that embrace stimulants of growth and development. Infrastructure among others, is a core mechanism for its fulfilment. Then, among the branches of infrastructure is the wing that anchors on transportation. Transportation (movement of human and material resources) is sine qua non to the workings of an economy. The indispensability of transportation to an economy is perceivable in the light that a poor transportation system is more or less tantamount to a crawling economy. The poor transport  system in Nigeria could be pointed out as one of the major  factors contributing to the distastful state of the Nigerian economy. The Nigerian transport system, with overbearing concentration on the road wing, has been a set back to effective transportation. While much attention has over the years been hampered on road infrastructure—which itself has not been on applaudable conditions—the utter neglect of other transportation means particularly, the rail and waterways is lamentable. It is antithetical to the efficacy of a coordinated transport system which complements other vital factors necessary to stimulate the running of an economy effectively for appreciable growth and development. Disclosure from the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi on Wednesday, indicated that the Federal Government has commenced work on the Kaduna-Kano segment of the protracted Lagos-Kano standard gauge railway. In a tweet on his verified Twitter handle ‘@ChibuikeAmaechi’, the Minister who posted pictures of heavy-duty equipment, wrote, “onsite: contractors move in for the commencement of the Kano-Kaduna section of the Lagos to Kano rail line.”The 305-kilometre railway project has a completion timeline of two to three years subject to availability of funds. It should be recalled that the Federal Government had over two years ago,  on May 15, 2018 signed the $6.68 billion contract with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) to complete the remaining segments of the Lagos-Kano Standard Guage rail line. The Lagos-Kano railway modernization project which was broken down into phases for ease of implementation kicked-off as far back as 2006 in the second tenure of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo. As the Federal Government is giving attention to revamping infrastructure in the country, the need to embrace an integrated transport system is essential to address the deficiencies in Nigeria’s transport infrastructures. A cooordinated system that incorporates  all wings of transportation means; including railways, waterways, airways with road, is essential  for a virile economy. Focusing mainly on road may not go too far in meeting the demands of an enormous economy such as Nigeria’s, which is Africa’s largest. Economic activities would continue to be strongly frustrated in as much as overbearing pressures lies on road infrastructure, which on its own level has not been in a reliable state. Developing the rail system in Nigeria should be a priority. The rail lines in Nigeria slathered with gross neglect do require strong attention from the Government. Leaving the railways to the fate of the archaic patterns drawn by the colonial masters of the 20th Century is laughable when thinking of modern day transportation system. The rail system in the Country needs to catch up with 21st century development. While the importance of developing road infrastructure remains significant, turning attention to rail and waterways with complements from airways is essential. Also pertinent is the development of the waterways in the southern part of Nigeria, so as to offset the pressure on long distance road travels. The need for the Government to draw a master plan which embraces the wings of all these transport means in a structured integrated system is sine qua non as a  stimulant to Nigeria’s crawling economy.