The Federal Government has spent $247.98m (which amounts to N111.23bn using the Central Bank of Nigeria’s December 30, 2022, official exchange rate of N448.55) servicing railway debts in the last two years while making only N11.61bn from railway services during the period.
According to data from Nigeria’s external debt service payments reports by the Debt Management Office, Nigeria spent $122.92m servicing debts incurred for the Nigeria Railway Modernisation Project (Idu-Kaduna Section), the Nigeria Railway Modernisation Project (Lagos-Ibadan Section), and the Nigeria Abuja Light Rail Project in 2021.
By 2022, the government spent $125.06m servicing debts incurred for the Nigeria Railway Modernisation Project (Idu-Kaduna Section), Nigeria Railway Modernisation Project (Lagos-Ibadan Section), Nigeria Abuja Light Rail Project, and Nigerian supply of rolling stocks and depot equipment for the Abuja light rail project.
Despite spending N111.23bn on railway debt servicing, railway services were only able to generate N11.61bn according to new industry statistics, released on Monday, from the National Bureau of Statistics.
In 2021, railway services generated a total revenue of N6.04bn from passengers, goods, and other income receipts. By 2022, revenue fell to N5.57bn from the aforementioned revenue sources.
2.72 million passengers and 142,438 tons of goods used rail services in 2021. In 2022, the number of passengers rose to 3.21 million while goods fell to 118,587 tons.
Insecurity and mismanagement might be hampering the growth of rail services in Nigeria. In March 2022, an Abuja-bound train was attacked in Kaduna by terrorists. Also, suspected kidnappers attacked another train in the Igueben Local Government Area of Edo State on January 7, 2023.
After the attack on Kaduna-Abuja rail services in 2022, the Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, disclosed that the Federal Government lost about N113m because of the non-operation of trains on the Abuja-Kaduna route.
He said, “The last time we checked that was between the months of February to August. We have lost about N113m.”
However, an independent report by The PUNCH revealed that the Federal Government lost about N5.37bn due to the suspension of the train service on the Abuja-Kaduna route.
Meanwhile, the Warri-Itakpe Train Services will resume operations on Monday, April 24, 2023, The PUNCH has learnt.
The Station Manager, Helma Sani, disclosed this to our correspondent in Abuja on Monday. He said, “We are resuming operation on Monday 24/4/2023.”
Recall that in January 2023, 148 passengers and 38 crew members of a train plying the Warri-Itakpe route escaped death when the train derailed inside the Kogi forest, forcing them (passengers) to be stranded.
Many passengers reportedly abandoned the train for fear of being kidnapped. It was gathered that the train left Warri early Sunday and got derailed at around noon inside the forest between Ajaokuta and Itakpe.
After this, the Nigerian Railway Corporation through the Coordinator of Warri Itakpe Train Service, Sanni Abdulganiyu, suspended rail operations on the corridor.
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