By Grace Alegba
The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) on Friday called on the Federal Government to sustain its railway development network beyond the Niger Republic.
Mr Olutosin Ogunmola, the NSE, Ikeja Branch Chairman said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the rail development should be extended to other African countries to boost Nigeria’s trade and commerce opportunities.
Ogunmola spoke to NAN on the sideline of the society’s monthly meeting in Ikeja.
At the combined virtual meeting, used to unveil the branch’s mentorship programme, Ogunmola had appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to play the big brother role towards revolutionising African trade and commerce.
He said that there were various indices to economic development, which included the micro and macro aspects that could be harnessed to make Nigeria a key player.
The branch chairman noted that Nigeria has a huge population that required internal and external rail connectivity to remain relevant as a rallying point for Africa’s development.
“In a nation with a population of 200 million people, you will expect that we have a lot of intra-rail networks before but that will not also take anything away from the inter-countries network of the rail system.
“So, to a large extent, particularly from our end (Ikeja NSE), we will not say we have any reservation with that as long as we are able to make the most out of it.
“It is to the Niger Republic today, we know someday, we will go to the Benin Republic, someday it will be to Cameroun.
“At the end of the day, Nigeria should play the role of big brother in Africa and this is one of the ways to get it done.
“We will encourage the government to sustain what it is being done.
“We want them to put frameworks in place to ensure continuity by the next administration.
“So we want to encourage the government that before this administration ends, all of the giant strides being undertaken, particularly in the area of rail transportation, they should introduce frameworks for sustainability,’’ he said.
Ogunmola noted that transportation “is like the blood that is flowing in the vein of the economy and thus, the key to economic development’’.
He said that the Ikeja NSE was focusing on transportation in its 2021 schedule and had begun a partnership with the Federal and Lagos State Governments in advancing initiatives to “reorder the transportation framework’’.
The branch chairman said that the NSE was already in talks with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) for collaboration on how to begin local production of railway spare parts for effective maintenance after construction is completed.
He said that the Chinese government was handling the design and construction of the ongoing rail projects but that local engineers could take over the production of rail components and mechanical maintenance.
He said that a situation where would still depend on importation of spare parts from China after the completion of all rail project could be avoided.
“That is why we are in partnership with the NRC to look into some of the parts that we can produce locally on maintenance of the rail tracks.’’
He said that the branch was also partnering with the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation on areas of collaboration on “technology-driven and engineering-based solutions that will fast track transportation.’ ’(NAN)