Residents of Enugu State on Saturday urged the Federal Government to revitalise railway transportation system to ease movement of goods and persons.
Some of them, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in separate interviews, regretted that the railway system had been neglected by successive governments over the years.
The residents urged government to step up efforts to revive the sector to lower the cost of transportation which would have substantial effect on the cost of goods and services in the country.
Mrs. Ego Ukogu, a civil servant, said that the railway was virtually the only cheap means of transportation between the 1970s and the early part of 1990s, before the story changed.
Ukogu lamented that the railway system had gone under which had put massive pressure on road and air transportation and shot up the fares.
She said that most of the railway lines were desolate with many of the track facilities stolen and vandalised by hoodlums.
“If government can re-construct our railway lines, transportation will be cheaper and safer; there will be employment for many Nigerians and revenue generations will shoot up,” she said.
A railway staff, who craved anonymity, told NAN that the decline in railway operations in the country was as a result of lack of government commitment to the system.
She noted that there was never a time in the history of any European country or America, where railway transportation system suddenly stopped operating.
The railway worker blamed the situation on corruption, saying that funds voted to revive the industry had often disappeared into private pockets.
Another resident, Mr Ebere Okeke, said that the incessant attacks on the highways was because the hoodlums were always sure that Nigerians would always be on the road with all their goods.
Okeke said that the railway transport system had massive positive impact on the economy in the 1980s, adding that the industry stimulated massive economic growth making Nigeria a buoyant nation.
“So much noise is made about diversifying the economy, but we cannot do much if the railway system is not working,” he said.
Mr Daniel Odunze, a business man, said that it was time for governors of each region to come together and construct railway lines that could link states within the regions so as to have cheaper and easy access of transportation.
Odunze called on both the state and federal governments to consider the safety of travelers which was usually enhanced via railway movement.
“Aside the safety, we also have the advantage of generating more revenue and opening up job opportunities,” he said. (NAN)