By Emmanuel Ugwu
The Minister of Transport, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, has said that the federal government is putting in place strategies to domesticate railway technology for sustainable reposition of the sector.
He stated this at the weekend when he laid the foundation stone of Transport and Logistics Institute of Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State, adding that Nigeria would reap dividends with homegrown railway technology.
The minister explained that if Nigeria failed to acquire the technology needed to operate the railway system currently being built by the Chinese, there was bound to be problems in future.
“The Chinese are constructing railways (and) if we don’t localise the technology, we will have problems in our hands when they go,” he said.
According to him, the Chinese were already being “encouraged to demystify” the railway technology hence the establishment of the University of Transport in Daura, Katsina State.
He further stated that the establishment of a centre in Kajola, Ogun State where coaches and locomotive engines would be manufactured, was also part of the measures to domesticate railway technology.
Alluding to criticisms that some parts of the country, especially the South-east is not included in the new railway networks bring constructed by the federal government, Amaechi said: “I don’t believe in North, South, East or West in transportation infrastructure,” adding that the railway network connects the south as much as it connects the north.
The former governor of Rivers State assured the management of Gregory University that the federal government would provide the necessary support to achieve its dream of providing the needed technology and manpower in the transport sector.
He said that his ministry would cooperate with GUU when the Bonny – Port Harcourt – Maiduguri rail line is built and when the rehabilitation of the old narrow gauge rail system commences.
On the rising insecurity in the country, the transport minister attributed it to hunger and poverty, adding that it could be tackled with massive sustainable employment opportunities.
Earlier the Chancellor and founder of GUU, Prof. Greg Ibe, stressed the need for Nigeria to become a major player in all aspects of the global transportation system.
He said that transport revolves around everybody’s life and has continued to drive globalisation hence, the urgent need for Nigeria not to be found wanting both in technology and manpower.