By Cliffsimeon Akalonu
In preparation to the groundbreaking ceremony of yet another milestone of the standard gauge track construction project of Kano – Kaduna rail line on Thursday, the leadership of Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NUR) has charged its members to reciprocate the good and commendable gesture of the federal government on the development of the rail transport industry with diligence, punctuality, and high grade professionalism.
Addressing the congress of members of the Union in Lagos recently, the Secretary General of the Union, Comrade Segun Esan, urged workers to show appreciation and gratitude to the federal government’s quest for an effective and efficient railway through various construction of standard gauge lines and equipping the industry for greater performance.
‘’The best we can do to express our profound appreciation to the federal government is to get committed to this work with passion and also protect the railway facilities from theft and vandalization as if it is our personal property, aware of what it takes to build a railway in terms of capital intensiveness of the development of the industry.
This is why we must renew our enthusiasm and passion to make Nigerian people and the federal government proud by working with greater diligence and top-notch professionalism’’, Esan said.
He commended the Administration of President Mohammadu Buhari for raising the ante by starting the construction of 190km Lagos (Apapa) – Ibadan (Moniya) track construction, completing it and commencing operation of same within its tenure.
He said that Nigerian railway workers should take cognizance of the commendable feat achieved by this administration in starting the construction of Lagos – Ibadan standard gauge from the scratch and completing it and even starting the operation within its tenure. This is worthy development that has never happened in the country before.
If all past Administrations have been this committed to the development of the railway industry, we would have had higher rail infrastructure base and greater market share of the passenger and freight presently taken by the road mode of transport and the road network would have been saved from constant dilapidation and pressure’’, Esan said.
‘’We should recall that the spate of infrastructure development under this incumbent administration in terms of system transition from the narrow gauge railway system to standard gauge, no doubt, has been very tremendous, consistent, and way too unbelievably contrasting to what used to be the order of the day in the past when remedial approaches were explored to salvage the railway industry all to no avail.
“This administration owns the credit for the completion, upgrading, and operation of Warri-Itakpe standard gauge railway after being dug out from its complacent state spanning over 25 years and the completion/operation of Abuja – Kaduna railway which, as we stand, is the flagship of the Corporation. We have no excuse but to tap into the lofty vision and aspiration of the federal government for a better railway system by complementing its effort with a good attitude to work’’, Esan added.
Esan, however, appealed to the federal government not to make the mistake made in the past whereby locomotive engines, coaches and wagons were purchased without enough and adequate spare parts to repair and maintain the facilities bought.
He added that the welfare and salary regime of the railway workers should be reviewed with a view to using that as means to encourage and attract young and employable Nigerians to follow career paths in the system.