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Rail Modernisation Master Plan: Nigeria needs Strong Implementation Committee for Dream Realisation- Opeifa 



Rail Modernisation Master Plan: Nigeria needs Strong Implementation Committee for Dream Realisation- Opeifa 

A Transportation Expert has urged the Federal Government to urgently set up a strong Technical Committee to review the implementation and updating of ‘Nigeria 25 Years Rail Modernisation Master Plan’ and the ‘Nigerian Rail Transportation System’ so as reinvigorate both the document and vision driving government’s dream and make it achievable.

The expert, who is the Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Mobility and Access Development (CenSMAD), Dr. Kayode Opeifa stated this last week, at the 4th National Transport Summit of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration in Nigeria, while delivering a paper on ‘Safety and Security of Rail Transportation in Nigeria’.

Speaking at the Shehu Musa Yar Adua Centre, Abuja on the theme: Transportation Safety, Opeifa noted that the Nigeria Railway Corporation is currently about 124 years old (1898 to 2022);  and stressed the need for very strong leadership, who would not only recognise the vision of Government, but also be dedicated enough to boldly pursue and midwife it as conceived.

He specifically pointed out that a bird’s eye view shows that the implementation of the milestone documents are seemingly lagging, especially, considering recent realities and opportunities facing the county; as well as considering the fact that even in 2022 we are still in phase! 

“Let me at this point call attention of the Honorable Minister of Transport to an urgent need to set up a strong Technical Committee to review the implementation of this fantastic and excellent document with a view to updating it as it seems the implementation of the milestones are lagging; and considering recent realities and opportunities facing the county, as well as considering the fact that in 2022 we are still in phase”, Opeifa stressed, emphasizing that the vision proposed in the document will materialize, only with “strong leadership, commitment, broad national support and participation.

Buttressing his view by the nation’s enviable antecedents, he called the attention of the Minister of Transportation, Muazu Jaji Sambo to the fact that Nigeria is a strong integral part of the world community, hence, adaptation and flexibility must be the watchword for the years ahead. 

“As of date, we have about 4,174+km consisting of about 3,505km of Narrow gauge; and about 800km of standard gauge”, the former Lagos State Commissioner of Transportation stated, mentioning the NRC Network, Abuja Light rail System,

Calabar Monorail system, Rivers Monorail system in Port Harcourt and the Upcoming Lagos rail Mass Transit system; in addition to 156.5 Km Double Standard Guage Lagos to Ibadan Rail line with extension by 6.5km, to Apapa Sea Port (2020).

“The Nigeria Rail Transportation System pioneered the rapid opening of the geographical area called Nigeria”, he stated, adding that the railway act of 1955 (as amended 2004) mandates the Corporation to develop National Rail Infrastructure and Operate Rail service on both the Narrow- and Standard-gauge rail lines. 

“Nigerians will want the best value for their money and will therefore demand a rail system that will move them quickly, safely, and comfortably in a way that is environmentally friendly” he indicated, itemizing other reasons, below: 

*Nigeria is grossly underdeveloped with respect to rail service, as a study of the comparative mobility indexes for African States and other countries establishes this fact. 

*Technological change will influence developments in the Transportation Sector. 

*Operational and demographic changes will encourage integrated and intermodal transportation. 

*Potential investors will invest under conditions that enable them make fair returns on their investment.

“In all, what makes the Railway transportation system is not just the Rail tracks and the Rolling stock but much more, including the governance structure, safety and security systems; Passenger and freight services administration; statutes and legal framework/environment; ticketing systems, Data and information management systems; signaling Systems, among others; and the associated policies guiding them.

He thereafter distinctly identified the difference between Rail Safety and environmental security.

He maintained that rail Safety basically entails all activities involved and affected by internal day-to-day operations, administration, deployment, maintenance and passenger/freight movement under the direct and full control of the Rail Authority management/Board. 

While Security on the other hand will relate to issues such as:

Railway environment community relations; Stealing/ Pilfering/ Burglary/Theft Personal attacks/ Harassment within coaches and around corridor/ coaches

Kidnapping /Terrorism, 

Smuggling, Riots/Public disturbance/War situations/

Immigration and other related issues.

“From the above, the Nigerian Railway system or should we say the Nigerian Rail Transportation system has not been as challenged in recent times by securities-related issues except, for as a result of recent twin train terrorist attacks with kidnappings, killings and ransom demands. 

“The security aspect is managed by the Specialist security agencies, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) handled by a special Police Command headed by a Commissioner of Police rank Railway Police Command and the Nigeria Securities and Civil Defense Corporation (NSCDC). 

He cautioned the media, not to unduly create unnecessary panic or fear in the minds of the public via poor media reportage. 

“I am aware this is an open event and as such our media personnel needs to exercise some restrain in view of the current effort at repositioning our Rail system under the present administration at National and some sub-national with huge local and foreign investment in Rail infrastructure.

“Rail Transportation still remains the safest mode among Land Transport Modes.

“Let me at this point say that the situation in Nigeria is not that bad as it is similar to the situation in many African and developing countries.

 “Since 2002 and especially 2010 and 2016, we have improved and things changed for the better. Also because of our current level of operations, we face fewer risks as rail safety indices are often measured in Km travelled, Passenger moved, hours worked or in operations among others. In all, we ought to be better than where we are.

“Safety culture is critical and should be Top Management driven. Rail transportation safety and security is also about the quality and commitment of Top management as Rail safety measures are often very expensive with a Low Benefit-Cost ratio as a result of strong Institution, Legal and Political pressures. 

“Safety is a central issue that challenges decision-making during the planning and implementation of the modern-day railway systems, especially with the advent of High Speed Rail (HSR) and as such appropriate systems should be in place to ensure safe performance during operations.

“According to Hale in 2000, integrated safety approach to all modes of Transport, not just rail is necessary to gain the trust of the public and government.

“If it is perceived unsafe as with the Abuja-Kaduna line in recent time due to the twin attack society will choose not to use it, hence a waste of the infrastructure assets”, he also explained.

Taking a harder look at Rail Security, Opeifa stated:

“Experience of March 2022 has provided some opportunities. Let it be established that Terrorist attacks on transportation assets are not new nor limited to Nigeria as the sector and rail inclusive meet all the requirements of terrorist soft targets. Examples abound worldwide. 

“In addition to the ongoing efforts by the National government, FMOT and the Nigerian Railway Corporation as efforts are in top gear to not just resume the Abuja- Kaduna Rail line services but provide sustainable, secured and safer rail transportation services along all Rail corridors.

“We need to establish a National minimum security checklist for Rail operations in Nigeria.

“We need to be Proactive to provide Security systems based on modern technology taking advantage of innovations and Artificial intelligence. 

“We need to declare not just a Rail Transportation security system but a Transportation wide system as we move towards achieving an intermodal transportation system”, he observed, positing that since an attack on one, implies injuries to others; there must therefore be a regular safety review committee of top-level stakeholders with the office of the National security adviser.

“Beyond regular safety audits, we need to carry out regular Security audits of all Rail Infrastructure assets and systems to assure the passenger/freight, government, investors and relevant stakeholders.

“We need to encourage sharing of information among modes and between security operatives.

“We need to deepen on lesson learnt from the last twin terrorist attacks on the AKTS rail line as findings is key to preventing the next one.

“While deploying technology, we need serious engagement with host communities along rail infrastructure installation as part of our intelligence gathering system for a more secured corridor.

“We need to support the ongoing efforts of the National government, the FMOT, and NRC at resuming the AKTS Rail services, after the deployment of the appropriate security systems.

“In conclusion, we must adopt a Holistic General System, where safety and security are approached as the minimum standard of operation of the Rail Transportation sector just as we have done with the Air transportation sector. 

“We need National coordination with safety compliance information available freely and willingly by all operators and stakeholders on a monthly basis not just on request”, Dr. Opeifa also advised further.

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NIPSS: Follow Global Policy Dynamics to Guide Nigeria- Buhari Charges Kuru 



NIPSS: Follow Global Policy Dynamics to Guide Nigeria- Buhari Charges Kuru 

…Tasks Institute To Surpass World Best Policy Think-Tanks*** 

President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR has charged the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) to surpass the best think-tank amongst policy Institutes in the world.

The President made the charge during the graduation ceremony of the Senior Executive Course No 44, 2022 at NIPSS, Kuru, Plateau State.

The President who was represented by the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo said he was delighted to be at the ceremony because of the historic role the national policy think-tank has played in people’s lives and the potential it has to do better for the nation.

The President revealed that he was particularly impressed as the graduation loudly attests to the consistency that NIPSS stands for. 

“This is an integral aspect of the dreams of the founding fathers of the Institute. It is also an assignment in which the Institute has never failed no matter the challenges, not even in the era of COVID-19. 

“While I congratulate the Institute for being resiliently consistent, I also wish to remind the Institute of the other aspects of your mandate, which is to evolve ideas, new techniques, skills, policies, and new directions to guide policymaking at the highest level. 

“In other words, you need to follow the global dynamics in policies and guide the nation on the application of global best practices. 

“I use the opportunity offered by this special occasion to challenge the National Institute to strive to be at par or even surpass the best think-tank amongst policy Institutes in the world. We will do our best in supporting you to fulfill this charge and other mandates,” he said. 

The President commended NIPSS and described the Institute as a strong and dependable ally of the government. 

He said NIPSS’ effort at engaging the best brains on critical national issues hasn’t gone unnoticed just like its submissions on the issues have also proved to be very useful in resolving many issues. G

“At this juncture, let me place on record that this administration, like the ones before it, find in NIPSS a strong and dependable ally. 

“Your submissions on course themes every year have either evolved a new policy addressing a major national issue or resulted in a review of existing policies to accommodate current realities. 

“We look your way in determining solutions to several issues as well as your recommendations in charting specific paths to achieving these solutions. I urge you to come up with more innovations, be more committed and remain focused on your mission of a better society,” he said. 

Buhari further gave assurances that the government will continue to support NIPSS towards achieving sustainable development as a nation. 

“As a responsible and responsive government, our foremost desire is to provide good governance at both the national and sub-national levels. 

“Our very strong desire is for all government interventions to cascade to the local levels including permeating all strata of society. 

“This informed the choice of the course theme for this year. It underscores our trust in you as a strong ally in our efforts toward sustainable development as a nation. 

“To achieve this, we gave you the best as participants to be groomed and guided by your world-class faculty members and facilities,” he said.

The President also advised graduands to sustain the level of seriousness with which they handled the course themes as they are of great importance to the Government. 

“To the graduands, the activities and your experiences through the duration of the course must have impacted positively on you. 

“I am delighted to know that you are leaving the National Institute with a better understanding of our great country and better knowledge of issues and problem-solving skills to enable you take on more responsibilities and perform optimally at your duty posts in the interest of our nation. 

“Having invested so much in you, the nation expects you to bring to bear the novel ideas you have acquired from Kuru.

“I assure you that the findings and recommendations contained in your report will be promptly attended to and applied by my government and those to come after me for the good of our dear country. 

“I congratulate you all and members of your family on your graduation and wish you the best as you resume your positions or assume higher responsibilities in your various fields of endeavors.

“To the management and staff of the National Institute, I commend you. The government buys into your mission of working towards a better society and is ever willing and ready to support you in achieving it for our nation.

“Thank you for producing very excellent results even in the face of stiff challenges. Thank you and God bless you all,” he said.

The Minister later commissioned, on behalf of the President, the Nursery/Primary School and e-learning center donated by the graduands to the children of the NIPSS staff and the Kuru community as well as a weather center established by the Graduands in collaboration with the NIMET.

We also congratulate the Honourable Minister whose younger brother, Bello Jaji Sambo, a Director with the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs was among the Graduands.

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NAGAFF Kicks Against Customs’ Informants; Says Ports’ Scanners Fall Short of Stakeholders’ Expectations 



NAGAFF Kicks Against Customs' Informants; Says Ports' Scanners Fall Short of Stakeholders' Expectations 

The 100% Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has kicked against the Nigeria Customs Service and its informants, saying that importers lose a lot of money to demurrage through the activities of the latter.

Addressing the press in Lagos on Thursday, the National Coordinator of the Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, frowned at the activities of the informants and other operational hiccups.

Tanko who indicated this also highlighted that the leader of the informants had been identified and the association had declared war on them.   

 However, he said that freight forwarders and Customs agents were not against Nigeria Customs engaging informants but that the cumbersome process involved in the release of seized containers calls for concern.

 Tanko advised that the controller of the command where the seized cargo was released initially should be allowed to exercise power on the final release, not the Abuja authority who might not respond on time while importers are incurring demurrage.

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 “Informants have taken over our job. They pick container numbers either from shipping companies or terminals and send them to the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A which the FOU officers and men on the highways use to arrest our containers. We are not against informants supplying information to Customs, our complaint is about the cumbersome process which the containers are subjected to before final release” Tanko cried out, maintaining that their principals were losing lots of money.

“We want the controller of the port where the cargo was released initially to give the final decision on the release, not the Abuja authority. We have lost a lot of money to demurrage while waiting for the Abuja verdict, which often takes a lot of time to arrive.

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“We have identified the leader of the informants. We have reached out to him and told him that we had concrete evidence against him. He denied any involvement in such act. This guy and his cohorts have caused many of our members to lose a lot of revenue to demurrage. I am a victim. The time is now to declare war on the activities of informants. And we have now declared the war”, he stated further.

He likened the informants to kidnappers and added that the standard of the scanners in the ports fall short of the expectations of the port users especially importers, freight forwarders and Customs agents because the scanners could not identify drugs, arms and ammunition and other security-threat items.

The leader of the Compliance Team advised the federal government to replace the scanners with the ones that can scan and identify hard drugs and weapons. 

“We must have scanners that can detect any incriminating objects. It is not about revenue issue; we should talk more about security,” he also stressed.

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