By Jonah Nwokpoku
For the railway sector, the key word is better service. For a sector that has endured throughout the colonial period, enormous challenges and neglect in the hands of different governments, analysts and industry watchers believe transformation would not happen overnight.
They argue however that consistent efforts are demanded from the authorities if the sector would ever occupy its position and be an economy spinner as it is around the world.
Stephen Ojelana, a Civil Engineer and a railway analyst said: “Given the level of decay resulting from long years of neglect by successive governments after the white man left, and efforts being made by this administration to bring the sector back to life, there is no gainsaying that the outlook remains bright.
We can only keep hoping for the best from what Sijuade and his team are doing. Already there have been enormous challenges within the last operating year and if they have monitored the progress closely, they should be able to tackle the challenges and improve on what they have. Effective service delivery should be their priority in 2014.”
For Kola Olubodun, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Goldenkay Ventures, a company specialised in manufacture of polythene products, poor service delivery, arising from technical challenges disrupted his patronage of the intercity. Like Ojelana, he hopes that the railway authorities would improve on what they have at the moment.
He said, “My business relied on the railway initially, between 2012 and the early part of 2013, for the movement of our products from Lagos to Jebba.
We had a factory in Lagos and after production we moved some products to the northern part of the country but after sometimes, we had to revert to courier services because of the challenges inherent in the intercity rail service.
The most annoying thing was the frequent break down during train journey, resulting in unnecessary delays that were not good for our business. So in 2014, I expect that Nigeria Railway should improve the quality of service, and make it a reliable means of transportation so that people, especially those relying on it for business, can plan with it.
At the moment there are so many deficiencies in the system and I expect that in 2014, the authorities should address those deficiencies.
David Ndanusa has worked with the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC for at least thirty years. He is currently, the Assistant Director, Public Relations. He said that, “In 2013, there were sustained efforts by both the federal government and the railway authorities to contain the challenges that came with the introduction of the intercity rail service.
And in the year, 2013, we will continue to improve on our efforts in the railway modernization programme. We are going to bring in more rolling stock; as that will help to address the challenges of poor services.
The authorities are re-strategising for effective service delivery. Already, a 2014 Strategic Directions for the NRC has been adopted with emphasis on Journey time capability, train service availability, amicable, punctuality and safety.