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Transportation is the movement of people, animals and goods from one location to another. There are different modes of transportation which includes air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline and space.

Transport is important because it enables trade between people, which in turn brings about development in the society; it also spans across the rural, sub-urban communities, States in particular and the country at large.

Transport infrastructure consists of the fixed installations including roads, airports, railways, waterways, canals, pipelines and terminals such as railway stations, bus stations, warehouses, trucking terminals, refueling depots, seaports, airlines or ships.

Amongst the various spectrums of the means of transportation, railway is one of the oldest and safest means of conveying passengers and goods and services in the world.

The focus of this commentary would be on the Rail transportation in Nigeria which started long before the country’s independence. It was used to link the then Southern and Northern protectorates.
This system of transportation continued to thrive in Nigeria up to the early 1990s when the railway infrastructure began to suffer neglect and decay leading to the collapse of the system.
In the last ten years, the Nigerian Government made deliberate and concerted efforts to resuscitate the rail sector by investing heavily in the rehabilitation of rail tracks and modernization of the wagons to ease transportation in the country.

Today, the rail system still remains the safest and cheapest means of transportation and therefore, a functional railway system is critical to the development of the transport sector in Nigeria.

The rail transportation in Nigeria was used during the pre-colonial period to transport coals, mines and steel. The country was able to ease congestion on roads and boost the economy through the railway system.

It is easier, faster and cheaper to move more people and goods by railway awing to its ability to convey many people at the same time as well as a large quantity of goods thereby reducing the pressure on the roads and the reduction of would be traffic and carnage on both States and federal roads across Nigeria.

Railway transportation is globally seen as an environmentally-friendly mode of mass transit system, hence, many countries have continued to take necessary steps to invest and enhance the efficiency of their rail transportation system.

The Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, since its resuscitation under the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration has been able to realize 2.1 billion naira in the first half of 2021 and also raised 5.7 billion naira by the end of 2021.

Despite the huge potentials of the railway system of transportation in revenue generation and the easing of traveling as well as ease of doing business, there are challenges associated with it in Nigeria. The derailment of the Abuja-Kaduna train leading to the kidnapping of tens and hundreds of persons and the recent Lagos train-bus accident that caused the death of eight persons raises serious course for concerns considering the frequencies of its occurrence in the country.

In 2022, between March and August, the Nigerian Railway Corporation lost 351 million naira due to the terrorist attack on the Abuja -Kaduna railway.

The need for strong, effective and efficient security apparatus for the manning of all railways, terminals and train couches becomes paramount. This is not to only secure passengers, goods and services but to prevent incessant vandalism of rail line across the country.

Regular maintenance and inspections of train tracks to ensure that parts are functioning well or replaced will go a long way in reducing incidents of derailment and malfunctions.

It is also important to improve security measures by preventing unauthorized access to train tracks and equipment. Building barriers or barricades and create alternative routes for the public to discourage Crossing of rail tracks.
The use of modern technology equipment be deployed at strategic corridors as obtained in other climes to weed off all negative interferences at all railway tracks in Nigeria.

Similarly, the Nigerian Railway Corporation needs to ensure the training and retraining of staff and operators, making sure that training evolves with technological advancement.

No matter what is done, accidents are bound to happen due to human errors and mechanical malfunctions, it is possible to reduce such accidents to the barest minimum by ensuring that the rail infrastructure are properly maintained and made functional to engender passenger, operators and the public confidence on the safety of the rail means of transportation in Nigeria.


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