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The Metamorphosis of the Nigeria Railway Corporation

…Plus 25-year strategic plan to re-position the Railway

By Oludaniels, Isaac Orieka, and Alphonsus Effi

Nigerian Railway Corporation is one of the fourteen official agencies under the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT), saddled to create an enabling business environment, by implementing effective, workable transport policies to enhance mobility for Nigerians Nationwide. The NRC is a leading giant in the freight; passenger traffic and employment drive in Nigeria.
The railway system has opened the deep geographical corridors of Nigeria. It is a representation of the oldest modern scheme of transportation in the country.
However, Railway development in Nigeria was driven by private interest which was later taken over by the then colonial government for the purpose to make rail transportation easy, for cheap movement of bulk goods from the hinterlands to the seaports.
The first rail line was the Lagos-Ibadan rail with a measurement of 193 KM was built in 1898 and was completed in 1901. Since then, railway construction has experienced many extensions, like Ibadan to Jebba 295 KM, 1907 to 1911. Jebba to Minna 255 KM, 1901 to 1915 Port Harcourt to Enugu 243 KM, 1914 to 1916. Enugu to Makurdi, 1916 to 1924, Kaduna to Kafanchan 176 KM, 1927, and Kafachan to Jos 101 Km. 1924 to 1927.

For 31 years, from 1927 to 1958, there was no railway development, but the development that took place later brought the total rail routes to 3505 KM as at then.
The railway became an independent entity created by an Act on October 1, 1955 known as the Act Parliament-Nigerian Railway Corporation with an objective majorly on goods and passenger carriage in such a way that will give value to passengers, meet operational costs, and improve market share including quality of service, safety of operations and ultimately efficiency. It is designed also to enhance trade for rail users, commerce, industries and the public.

Management Role
NRC management is the bedrock appointed to manage efficient and effective operations. So, the management and board is responsible to market a technically competent rail system for the corporation to break even. Develop complementary abilities to existing railway businesses by exploiting other businesses which are consistent with the best practices of management policies, restoring the organization’s image through quality service. By rehabilitating railway telecommunications, signaling, track, culvert and bridges, ensuring that workshops and sheds are reorganized for optimal performance, which will improve maintenance, effective manpower and standard rolling stock.
This also provide a measure to eliminate sharp curves, maintain rail line tracks, and sleep gradients so that the trains can speed effortlessly to reduce accidents. That said, management has really worked hard to achieve minimal accidents by applying improved working relations with staff, including the rules and regulations of the (NRC).

NRC Administrative Structure
Currently, the structural organisation since the Railway was established evolved in 1956, with departmental and district system, but was reviewed in 2010.
The railway administrative structure is described as “Departmental, technical and district management” RDMs report to the MD, through the Director Admin, HR general matters, Director mechanical/electrical and ST on rolling stock, Director on CNL track. While the district HODS respectively report to their headquarter Directors.
However, the organisational structure was expanded to include corporate planning department. The NRC management structure is divided into 10 Directorates as well as the upgrading of the legal services and internal audit directorates.

The entire Rail network with its Headquarters in Ebute Metta, Lagos state was decentralised into 7 service-autonomous districts namely:

  1. Northern district
  2. Lagos district
  3. Western district
  4. Eastern district
  5. North Central district
  6. North East district
  7. North West district
    We also have 2 Project managers in Agbor (Delta State) and Abuja, (Federal Capital Territory) to manage the Standard guage railway line between Abuja and Kaduna, between Itakpe (Kogi State) and Warri (Delta State) respectively.
    The Railway also provides that “the corporation shall not be under an obligation to continue to introduce any particular services or facility that is not viable in terms of revenue to meet the cost of the corporation.
    As a result, the corporation declares annual operational deficits from running uneconomic routes side by side with Profits from profitable routes.
    Therefore, the corporation’s vision is to provide a world class Rail Transport system, ensuring safety, efficient and affordable, reliable service with a wide network and customer based oriented package. Thereby, striving to become a leading sector in the transport and other key areas of specialisation using new innovation, branded and motivated staff by using advance technology of 21st century to maintain balance.
    Guided by the corporation ethics, it also employs and encourages professionalism, integrity, team spirit, respect for individuals including the promise to deliver efficient services to passengers and other rail users.

25 Years Railway Strategic Vision
No transport system in the world survives without a bold determination to strategise, plan by also implementing a policy for the sector to grow.
In order for NRC to nestle international standard with local content, the federal government conceived a 25-year strategic plan to reposition the Railway with a dual approach.
• That is phase one: system transition, 2002-2017. This is meant to boost railway functions so as to attract potential concessionaires
• Phase II: System modernisation 2007-2015. These phases are concurrently being implemented as phase II entails stabilising the system from 2016-2027.
The sole objective of NRC corporate mission and plan is to apply a year to year plan or short term agenda to keep the NRC going so that government’s decision to concession the organisation is properly put in place.
The objectives is aimed at translating the short term goals into policies and action, targeting the role of the regulatory policy and framework and market environment with special reference on freight and passenger movement/services.
Asset maintenance, Human capital development as well as identifying its strength and weakness with a focus to achieve a better performance.

The corporate plan
• The Business plan
• The Operating plan
• The Equipment maintenance plan
• The Maintenance plan
• The Signal and Telecommunications plan
• The Manpower and Development plan
• The Financial plan.
With these laudable ideas we hail the NRC’s grind.

Current Train Operations
Passenger Train Services
• Abuja to Kaduna
• Lagos to kano
• Lagos to Ilorin
• Offa to kano
• Port-Harcourt to Gombe
• Kano toPort-Harcourt
• Apapa/Iddo-Oto Ijoko mass transit
• Minna to Kaduna mass transit
• Zaria to Funtua-Gasau-Kaura Namoda
• Aba to Port Harcourt mass transit.
Freight Train Services
• Lafarge cement train from Ewekoro factory to Minna Kaduna-Kano
• APMT Bonded containers from Apapa to Kano
• ICNL Bonded containers from Apapa to Kano
• Flour Mills Nigeria PLC, Wheat flour from Apapa to kano
• NRC Petroleum Product (AGO), from Ebute Metta Junction to Ibadan, Offa, Minna, Kaduna, Kano, Cattle Traffic and agricultural products.

Core Users of Rail Freight Services in Nigeria

  1. WAPCO
  2. ASHAKO Plc
  3. Eddie International Plc
  4. Eurafric Nigeria Ltd.
  5. Flour Mills of Nigeria Ltd
  6. Oando
  7. Lafarge
  8. Total
  9. Mobil Nigeria Plc
  10. Euro-Afric Coastal Services
  11. CCECC
  12. Julius Berger Plc
  13. Cattle Traders Association
  14. Dangote Group of companies.

Passenger Fare
• Economy class N2.55 per km
• First class seat 130 percent (1)
• First class sleeper ordinary 150% of (1)
• First class sleeper (A/C) 200% of (3)

Freight Rate
• Dry goods N7.10+VAT/ton KM
• Wet goods N8.70 +VAT/ton Km
• Bitumen Bullet – 9.15+VAT/ton Km
• Cars – N90.00/Wagon/Km
The rates are cheap, affordable and pocket friendly in order to help the masses and increase NRC finances and revenue so that the economy will ultimately benefit from its operations.

The socio-economic value of the new standard gauge lines
The social and political economy of Nigeria requires the construction of standard gauge lines first for direct and indirect creation of employment for willing and capable Nigerians that will promote and work to develop the NRC and Nigerians in General.
The new lines if well integrated will help in moving people from one location to another location as new rail stations would be cited in areas/cities that were not known and it will open up the development of social amenities in new cities, and infrastructure
Economically most of the rail lines will be linked to seaports and dry ports which is major source of revenue and economic development. Creating awareness to Nigerians through the numerous services the NRC offers.
Suffice to emphasise at this juncture that the current MD. Fidet. Okhiria (Mr. Railway) likewise the Minister of Transportation Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi contributed tremendously to the current development of the Railways by supervising and improving the new vistas of standard gauge lines in the Nigerian polity today.