The Nigerian Social and Economic Research (NISER), Ibadan, on Tuesday called for increased train usage by commuters and shippers on narrow and standard gauge lines across the country.
A Senior Research Fellow at NISER, Dr Adebukola Daramola, made the call at the NISER Research Seminar Series held at the institute.
Daramola, who spoke on the topic: `‘Rail Transport Reform and Socio-Economic Effects in Nigeria’’, urged that delayed departures by trains should be curbed to encourage usage.
She urged that legal reforms be concluded to give potential private investors a clear guide on how and where to engage in the rail sector.
The research fellow said that investments in rolling stock and train operations might be more attractive to private investors than infrastructure constructions.
She advised that Nigeria should learn from other countries and design a nuanced reform strategy that would work.
“Nigeria Railway Cooperation (NRC) should explore validity of windows in NRC Act for private investors while we await final passage and presidential assent to the Railway Bill.
“A functional steel rolling mill will help to ensure improved domestic capacity for building and maintenance of rolling stock.
“Also, training is critical for NRC staff to ensure optimal technology adoption,” she said.
Earlier, the NISER Director-General, Dr Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, said that the rail system had a huge potential for the country’s development.
Gbadebo-Smith, represented by NISER’s Head of Physical, Infrastructural Policy Department, Prof. Soji Adesoya, said that rail transport operations in Nigeria were characterised by a chequered trajectory from 1950s till date.
He, however, praised the Federal Government for considering improving the country’s transport sector, including rail.
The Chairman of the occasion, Dr Josiah Omirin from Department of Urban, Regional Planning, University of Ibadan, said rail system was environment-friendly.
He called for rehabilitation of the system to maximize potential.