During an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, Mr. Femi Adedotun, the Ikeja Branch Chairman of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), implored President Bola Tinubu to establish a dedicated ministry for the railway. Adedotun believes that this initiative would not only create numerous job opportunities but also promote industrialization and contribute to the overall economic growth of the nation. Railway operations are known for their substantial need for workers, serving as a major catalyst for employment and a means to combat both unemployment and underemployment in various countries worldwide.
Adedotun called on the federal government to seek out lucrative prospects by engaging in collaborations with the private sector in order to produce or assemble railway components. By doing so, they could effectively address the issue of capital flight while simultaneously generating numerous job opportunities. The strategic move would curb the outflow of financial capital, attracting investments, fostering widespread employment, and propelling the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to new heights. Adedotun, who is also the Head of Department for Industrial Maintenance Engineering at YabaTech said the railway industry holds numerous opportunities for professionals and artisans from diverse fields to collaborate and contribute to its various value chains concurrently.
Nigerian railway industry has remained stagnant for over a century.
The railway sector possesses the capacity to integrate 1,000 engineers annually into our framework. For this reason, it is crucial for the government to display utmost commitment by providing substantial funding and promoting the inclusion of local expertise. This is due to the fact that our local engineers, technicians, and technologists are fully capable of performing tasks equivalent to those undertaken by the Chinese engineers. In his depiction of his visit to the Indian Railway Ministry, Adedotun shared an account of how the Indian nationals displayed remarkable foresight. Indulging in insightful discussions, he discovered their unique practice of procuring locomotives and engines from technologically advanced nations, utilizing them as study models for the purpose of fabricating their own.
He urged the federal government to create a conducive atmosphere for private enterprises to establish manufacturing facilities for coaches and wagons, specifically focused on producing spare parts. He expressed dismay over the fact that Nigerian railway industry had remained stagnant for over a century, attributing this stagnation to the absence of a supportive policy framework that would enable it to flourish as a lucrative venture comparable to other nations. He said the NRC, despite being a year older than the Chinese Railway, is lagging behind them considerably, showing the country’s regressive trajectory.
Collaboration between the govt, private sector, NRC is crucial.
Most effective way to progress is for the government to adopt the railway as a fundamental priority across policy, finances, and management. Collaboration between the government, private sector, and NRC management team is also crucial. Additionally, involvement from academia, industry, and professional bodies should be included in this multifaceted partnership. By ensuring full funding for the railway, unemployment issues can be effectively addressed, he added. Expressing his discontent, he bemoaned the lack of sufficient interconnectivity within the nation, highlighting the existence of a sole railway line from Lagos to Kano. Meanwhile, all states in the country are supposed to have a train network linking them together.
Moreover, he disclosed that a tripartite agreement involving Ikeja NSE, NRC, and FIRRO had been penned to enter into the production of railway spare parts and affirms that the agreement was progressing as planned. He further emphasized that the involved parties aimed to promote local content in the sector by involving the private sector in the manufacturing process of certain spare parts. Adedotun said the NSE had carried out a thorough examination of recent installations in order to analyse the Chinese companies performance. Also, NSE plans to embark on a subsequent visit to Ibadan to assess the efficiency of the rail tracks’ riding index.
Government continues to train specialists in the field.
In order to aid them in designing the parts, he mentioned that the NSE is using this method to investigate gradients and other characteristics, with fabrication to be carried out by FIRRO, and the NRC would oversee operations. The chairman expressed his admiration for the federal government’s continuous endeavours in training specialists in the field. According to him, a group of five engineers from YabaTech, including himself, were recently dispatched to India by the federal government. Their goal was to gain insights into the intricacies of India’s railway system. Additionally, he mentioned that the Kaduna Polytechnic had initiated dedicated Railway Engineering Departments, while at the same time, YabaTech is in the process of commencing degree programs specifically focused on Railway Engineering Technology.