Friday, March 30, 2035
In a recent survey conducted by NOI Polls on the impact of major government policies over the last two decades, 75% of Nigerians attributed the nation’s economic development “largely” to the resuscitation of the railway industry. The rail transportation in Nigeria has, without doubt, experienced incredible turn around in the last 20 years.
As at year 2014, with 3,781km railway lines, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) was only able to carry 2.3 million passengers and 310, 000 metric tons of freight. Presently, with 20,145km of railway lines, and well over 1.2 billion passengers and 12 billion tonnes of goods transported, Nigeria is rated 12th most efficient railway nation in the world, and 5 steps above South Africa which led Africa for over two decades.
This transformation has affected every area of the socio-economic lives of Nigerians. For instance, over 10 million of the 197 million Nigerians now prefer to live in a state, and travel to another to work Monday through Friday. For people in this group, the highest inter-state travel time is 1 hour, while the lowest in 10 minutes.
As for Johnson Dada, an Ibadan resident banker, it takes him 15 minutes to travel to Lagos daily on a high-speed rail. He said “I now wake up 6:00am, spend some time with my family, live my house around 7:10am, and I’m still able to get to work latest 7:50am. There’s nothing that makes me as happy as this experience. As a bachelor, when I was living in Lagos, I must leave my house 5:05am on dot. If I left 5:10am, I would get to work as late as 9:00am.” A recent research by the FRSC shows that commuters now spend 30% of the amount they used to spend on transportation 20 years ago.
The Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) says its members now spend 40% of the cost they used to incur on transportation. This reduction has majorly contributed to the decline in the prices of goods, as it has been consistently witnessed in the last one decade. For instance, a sachet of Omo detergent which used to cost N15 now costs only N5.
Just as Nigerian citizens are benefiting, the Nigerian government is also benefiting. The minister of finance, recently announced that the executive has saved N10B in the last two years “as a direct result of our efficient railway system.”
The railway reforms, however did not come without some losses. From sabotage of some truck owners, to the privatization saga that saw about 9 lives lost, to houses demolition and compensation sagas; through all of these, the successive governments and citizens kept up the good faith. Never before in the history of Nigeria did governments earn so much trust from Nigerians that any media propaganda was blatantly refuted and condemned by Nigerians without the FG having to defend itself.
The best thing about the reform is that citizens - and not a few elites - truly own the railway service companies. Experts say that the processes of sensitization of citizens and eventual part-sale of the NRC were of international best practices. This partly explains why Nigerians owned and supported the reform all through its trying times.
Agricultural produce are now been transported five times faster and two times cheaper, thereby resulting in the reduction of annual agricultural produce spoilage and wastage by 80%, plus the sharp and continuous decline in the prices of agricultural commodities across the nation.
You can follow us on Twitter @ngtomorrow