A community leader at Sampou, in Bayelsa, Chief Ashane Usukoromo, Monday applauded the massive rehabilitation of the railways by the federal government and called for spread across the federation.
He said that an integrated transport system where different modes of transport complimented each other as currently being implemented was essential for economic development rather than have the transportation modes compete against each other.
Usukoromo said in Yenagoa that rehabilitating and expanding the country’s railway system would drive down transportation costs as well as price of goods and services.
He recalled that in the 80s, when the Port Harcourt-Kano rail line was operational imports from Europe, Asia and America were channeled through Lagos and Port Harcourt but regretted that the comatose state of Port Harcourt port has resulted to congestion at the Lagos port.
He called on the Ministry of Transport to equally pay attention to the Port Harcourt-Kano rail line to free the Lagos Port and make for a more efficient transportation system across the country and also ease the burden on the road network.
“It has been observed that the minister of transport has focused his attention only on the Lagos-Ibadan-Oshogbo-Kano railway lines but forgotten the rail lines from Port Harcourt to Kano.
“In 1980s, I usually travelled to Kano through the railways from Port Harcourt to Kano but now there is only skeletal rail services from Port Harcourt to Aba. Formerly goods were transported to Port Harcourt port directly from Britain, France, China, Russia, America, Germany etc.
“But now all goods are directed to Lagos port alone, consequently goods are not offloaded on time leading to congestion at the Lagos sea port,” Usukoromo said.
He lamented the high cost of cement which Nigerians need to build decent and affordable shelter and observed that policies aimed at protecting indigenous cement manufacturers has yet to lead to lower prices and wondered why the policy should not be reviewed.
He advised the federal government to liberalise the cement market to allow for imports of the commodity to boost delivery of housing to meet the deficit and urged the Ministers of Transport and Trade/Industry to correct the noted anomalies.