The minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi has said the federal government has plans to embark on massive railway infrastructure development across the country, saying that works on railway lines, when they start in 2016 can absolve 250,000 people.
The minister also said that from its current 1.41 per cent contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), the ministry of Transport under his leadership would work to raise transport sector’s contribution to GDP, stressing that the current contribution is “unacceptable.”
The minister yesterday ended his tour of transport facilities and agencies in Lagos, which he began last week, touring airport facilities at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport and its environs before he briefed journalists about his findings and the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s plan for the transport sector.
The minister, who noted that Nigeria suffers the bane of inadequate transport infrastructure, said the federal government would use opportunities that abound in the sector to build the economy as such countries as South Korea and Singapore.
“The Railways has suffered significant neglect even though it is the cheapest mode of transportation. The current state of railway is an indication of severe neglect and it is a chaotic situation, with government spending without any return on investment,” he said.
Government will focus on railway to encourage mass transit of and cargo freights by railway. The current government is planning massive investment into the standard gauge whose constructions will begin 2016, with the Calabar-Lagos coastal railway.
Amaechi who admitted that the tour had helped him and his minister of state, Senator Hadi Sirika to have a clearer understanding of the enormity of the task before them, applauded the agencies in transport sector, including aviation, but maintained that there is a huge room for improvement.
He said inspection of transport facilities and agencies would be observed by him and the minister of state every three months to keep a tap on the developmental programmes in the transport sector.
He said, “Since we assumed office, I and my colleague have received briefs and have embarked on fact finding and this will help us to lay solid foundation for the development of transport sector.