Charles Onyekamuo in
The Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ONICCIMA), has urged the federal government and the National Assembly should to as matter of urgency find a way of including the construction of rail lines across the South East zone in the now controversial 2016 federal budget.
President of the chamber, Mr. Uchenna Apakama, told journalists in Onitsha that it was baffling that while a rail line is being constructed from Lagos to Kano and another one billed from Lagos to Calabar in the 2016 budget, which has become a subject of controversy, the South East zone was not considered for a rail project given the volume of trade and movement of heavy duty equipment in the area.
The rail transport considered as the cheapest and safest means of moving goods and persons, he said could not have been effectively done for the economic development of the country without including Onitsha and Aba.
He added: “These two cities are the economic hub of the South East, so, why is the South East not in the plan? Don’t we deserve rail line projects?” he asked, and blamed the political leaders from the South East zone for not rising to the demand for an effective representation of the people.
“It is unfortunate that our people in government are not interested in the welfare of their people.
“How can they be talking of Calabar to Lagos, Lagos to Kano rail lines and nothing is said about Aba, Onitsha rail lines in the budget. We need explanation from them,” he said.
He nonetheless enjoined Nigerians to keep faith with the federal government in its efforts to end the current fuel scarcity, which he observed may take long time to abate.
“I think what people need to have is patience. The Minister of state for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had told us that the fuel problem will end in May but we want to crucify him.
“Now it is clear to us that the end is not in sight until around May. We should have patience and have confidence in our leaders.
“I want to believe the minister and his team that they mean well for us and that by the end of May, we shall buy fuel at the official rate and run our businesses profitably.
“Nigeria is facing challenges of security in all fronts — the army is being stretched by Boko Haram, armed robbery, pipeline vandalism, the Fulani herdsmen and others.
“Nigerians should volunteer useful information to security agencies to enable them to manage the challenges effectively.’’