By Fidelis Ugbomeh
The lackluster attitude of the National Assembly towards the removal of Nigerian Railway Corporation from the Exclusive Legislative List has been viewed by many with veiled suspiscion.
While some believe that the state governments should be allowed to construct intra state railway lines others posited that federal government should take the responsibility of networking the whole country with railway lines.
Managing Director, First Rit Nigeria Limited, Mr. Eric Umezurike in his remarks on the issue said that provision of railway service should not be removed from the Exclusive Legislative List because there is the Exclusive Schedule and the Concurrent and Residual Lists.
According to him, the state and local governments cannot maintain railway if it is removed from the Exclusive List adding that the problem with the railways is that the National Assembly lacks the political will to review the Act establishing the Nigerian Railway Corporation because of selfish gians.
He reiterated that some of the members of the Red and Green chambers have trailers and will not want the railway to regain its past glory by evacuating bulky goods.
Umezurike pointed out that the railway is supposed to provide social service by moving goods and passengers at a subsidized rate.
“As it is today a lot of people buy fairly used vehicles. If the railway is functional people do not even need cars except during the weekends.
The First Rit Nigeria Limited boss stated further that the Federal government should invest in the Nigerian Railway Corporation by constructing standard gauge lines linking one state to another as well as procure locomotive engines, wagons, coaches and pressurized tanks for evacuating fuel.
He said that if Nigerian Railway Corporation becomes more efficient it will reduce peoples dependence on private vehicles and by extension save lives lost due to raod accidents.
President General Nigerian Union of Railway Workers, Comrade Saidu Garba said that Nigeria as a developing country should give railway the pririty it deserves adding that it is not an issue that should be politisized .
He stated categorically that it should not be removed from the Exclusive Ligislative List and handed over to states or private sector.
Accoording to him, all over the world railway provides cheapest means of transport especially now that there is technological advancement in rail development..
Comrade Garba wondered why government is looking for ways to shy away from its responsibility to make life bearable for the most vulnerable in the society.
“Our railway will work with proper government supervision because the motive will not be just profit but the provision of service for the most vunerable in the society,” he declared.
The President General decried moves by government to concession some aspects of railway operations to General Electric saying the company has no track record of managing railways anywhere in the world
Another respondent, Mr Chika Ubo said that railway should not be left in the Exclusive list because state governments should be able to manage intra city train service..
He averred that the Federal government should concentrate in the provision of long distance train service while the states should focus on short distance shuttle.