Nigerian Govt To Sustain Railway Heritage
Image courtesy: Nigerian Railway Corporation

Nigeria’s transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the Federal Government is aware of the importance of preserving the history of the Nigerian Railway heritage.

Amaechi said this when he received the Managing Director, International Railway Heritage Consultancy Ltd., Steve Davies, in Abuja on Thursday.

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He said that retaining the country’s railway heritage had been a major challenge and he would do everything possible to ensure it is preserved.

But the minister called on the aforementioned company to come up with a concept paper on how to secure Nigeria’s investment in the sector.

“It is important that we do not forget our history. We will want you to give us a concept paper on what you think we need to do to secure those investments for our children. And we need this quickly because we intend to rehabilitate the entire narrow gauge,” he said.

“When rehabilitating the entire narrow gauge, we may want to either demolish the old stations or build new ones and if care is not taken we may demolish the workshops and build new ones because of modern technology.

“We will be glad if we can see a concept paper on what can be done so that we tie it into the numerous repairs we are going to do.

“We believe if we rehabilitate about 3,505 kilometres of narrow gauge, even if we don’t have money for new construction of the standard gauge, we can at least run with the narrow gauge which is about 80 kilometres per hour.

“But I don’t want to do that until I see the concept paper of this heritage programme to earmark what can be protected, saved and how to go about doing that. I will be glad to do that.”

Speaking, Davies said his group had come to assist the country to preserve its heritage at no charge.

He said, “I think, with your modernisation in the railway, there is a lot of opportunities here to look at. We need to ascertain what is important and what can be taken and centralised in the central museum.

“We are here at no charge and, because we want to be here, we have already come up with quite a few designs that we think are practical. Some of these designs include potentially the rehabilitation of a couple of steam locomotives for tourists’ use and there is a huge international market for heritage steam in other countries.

“Although rehabilitating the steam will be a challenge, the ones we have seen in Lagos are in better condition than many we had rehabilitated and which are now operating on the mainland. Nigeria can re-create steam if there is at government level the determination to do something better with the rail heritage.”