Commissioners for Transport from 17 states of the South-West, South-East and South-South have met in Calabar, Cross River State, to initiate discussions on the construction of Lagos-Calabar rail line, also known as the West-East rail.
The Lagos-Calabar rail will traverse the south-west, south-east and the south-south.
The meeting was convened by the BRACED Commission. BRACED is an acronym for Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta.
A statement by the commission on Friday quoted its Director-General, Ambassador Joe Keshi, as saying that the meeting was convened as a follow-up to the last two South-South Economic Summits during which the need for the expansion of the national rail network to include the West-East rail line was raised.
He said, “The three zones constitute the busiest commercial belt of the country. A rail line linking them would aid easy movement of services and goods, especially petroleum products (the mainstay of the national economy), farm produce both for export and for local consumption.”
In a communiqué issued after the meeting, participants affirmed the importance of the West-East rail line as part of the national development agenda to improve mass transportation in Nigeria.
It noted that the rail line, described as the most viable and sustainable line in the national rail network, would change the economic dynamics of the concerned regions when constructed.
It also noted that Nigeria’s vision 20:2020 aspirations could be seriously hampered without a modern transportation system, which included the railways.
The communiqué called on the Federal Government to create the enabling environment that would encourage private sector investment in railways development in the country.
It similarly urged the 17 southern governors to open up dialogue with the Federal Government on the necessity to include the East-West rail in the national railway development agenda.
Keshi said, “The contiguous nature of the 17 states would translate to faster movement of personnel.”
The meeting was also attended by railway experts, special advisers and senior transport officials from the 17 southern states, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Niger Delta Development Commission.
The rail line is expected to meet the aspirations of the south-west, which had also indicated the desire to build a rail line connecting the region.