NSE calls for private railway investments, raise alarm over conflicting technologies

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Railway

By Grace Alegba
Lagos, Dec. 14, 2018 (NNN) The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has called on local engineers to understudy the different standards and designs in countries that had modern railways to revolutionise Nigeria’s rail transportation.

The society also called on the private sector to take advantage of the huge investment opportunities in the railway sector to increase local earnings, create jobs and ensure rapid industrialisation.

It urged the engineers to always insist on quality during contract awards and project execution to ensure durable infrastructure in the country.

The members of the society told the News Agency of Nigeria (NNN) on Friday in Lagos that more Nigerian engineers needed to go into politics so as to evolve the right policies to ensure rapid infrastructure delivery.

They spoke against the backdrop of the 2018 Annual Dinner and Induction of new members by the Apapa Branch of the NSE on Thursday night.

Mr Anthony Onyokoko, Director, Civil Engineering/New Lines, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Lagos, told NNN that the there was need for local engineers to understand the designs running the railway system in order to make impact.

Onyokoko said there were huge investment opportunities in the railway sector which government could not handle alone and therefore, local engineers must understand the various design standards.

He added that all the designs could be used together irrespective of their ages.

He said that the sector was ripe for investments in various aspects which the private sector should partner with government to harness.

Onyokoko explained that when the NRC was established in the 18th century, it started with the British technology and along the line, other countries made inputs contributing new designs.

He noted that Nigeria was currently using the Chinese standard for its ongoing new rail projects.

“The only thing is that there are multiplicity of standards, what we need to do as engineers is to adapt to these standards and see how we can come out of the woods without having too much
problems in the operations.

“Through Private Public Partnership (PPP), they could try to remodel the stations, we have a lot of stations and they need to be updated,’’ he said.

While delivering a lecture, entitled “The Nigerian Railways: Challenges and Prospects”, Onyokoko who was guest speaker, said that the Federal Government had a 25-year plan to resuscitate
the railway.

He said that the Olusegun Obasanjo administration began the implementation which had been sustained.

The director recalled that railway services started in Nigeria 1898 and after the exit of the colonial masters, the challenges of the NRC was compounded because British standard was used and they left
when there was not enough skilled railway engineers leaving a vacuum.

Contributing, Dr Musiliu Agoro, Chairman, Lagos Branch of NSE, urged engineers to go the extra mile to study and understand all the standards of the British, European, Chinese and other countries’ designs running the rail in Nigeria to be able to take over.

“There can only be technology transfer if we take the bull by the horn to know all the standards.

“We cannot wait for them (expatriates) because they want us to keep depending on them,” he said.

The Chairman of Apapa Branch, Mr Sunny Ejeje, told NNN that the branch was passionate about resolving issues of gridlock in Apapa causing huge revenue losses, hence, its decision to evolve discourse
around improving the railway transportation.

“NSE has been going round to see how the politicians can have trust in Nigerian engineers. If Nigerian engineers are well paid, they will perform, if Nigerian engineers are given the kind of leverage given to their foreign counterparts, they will do well.

“Bringing in the foreigners here is a political thing, engineers are being told to move into politics to shape policies in the right direction,’’ he said

He said that completion of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project would improve commerce and take more stress off the roads.

He added that the branch was partnering with other stakeholders to ensure reduction of trucks going into Apapa on a daily basis to reduce to stress on roads and bridges in Lagos. (NNN)
GA/PDE
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(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)