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AN APPRAISAL OF THE MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS OF NIGERIA RAIL WAY CORPORATION

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Rail transport has and continues to play a key role in the movement of goods and passengers in many countries around the world including Nigeria. However, while rail transport continues to enjoy relative importance in terms of investment, growth and contribution to the national economy in several counties, it has suffered and continues to decline (in terms of modal share contribution) in Nigeria and other African countries. At a point in the history of Nigeria, rail transport played a very crucial and significant role in its contribution to the Nigerian national economy.
According to Robinson et al (1961), Nigerian railway particularly was still playing a very active role in overland freight movement in the early years after 1960, to the extent that it accounted for approximately one-third of freight traffic. At some point in time, the Nigerian railways played a key role in enhancing colonial administration, by maintaining links between the central seat of colonial government in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria (Elechi, 1998). It also served as a major mode of transport used in facilitating the opening up of several mineral producing and agricultural areas. It was also major mover of freight and passengers across the country, especially where the rail lines
traverse.
While the Nigerian economy has expanded over time (with occasional hiccups) and new centres of
activities have emerged, the Nigerian railways have failed to respond to the potentially viable
services and opportunities that exist. In other words, in the last three decades in particular, not
much has been achieved in terms of structural transformation of the Nigerian Railways, so as to
meet potential demand for rail services as well as the rapidly emerging challenges of economic
growth and national development. By 1970s through to the early 1980s, both the volume of
passengers and goods carried by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had started to drop
dramatically (Adesanya, 2002). Unfortunately too, the fortunes of the rail transport sub-sector have
declined so precipitously due to the enormity of the problems and challenges that confront it. The
effects of the poor performance of the rail transport subsector is already being felt seriously in the
form of the undue pressure being mounted on the road transport subsector and the attendant huge
damage to roads and loss of lives among other things.
Suffice it to mention that the Economic Transformation blueprint of Nigeria (Vision 20:2020
document) itself has noted that one of the supposedly key drivers of the economy at the bottom end
of sectoral activities and which is regarded as practically dead is rail transportation (NPC, 2009:24).
Given this situation and the huge opportunities that exist for the Nigerian railways to contribute
significantly to the transformation of the Nigerian economy, it is critical to examine why the Nigerian
railways have not woken up from its slumber despite the various efforts at resuscitating it.
Therefore, bringing the Nigerian railways back on track is very important and how this can be
achieved will depend on how well we are able to articulate the challenges that confront this mode of
transportation and the options that are feasible and sustainable.

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