Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Igbo youths under the aegis of Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to consider using standard gauge for Eastern rail corridor.
COSEYL backed the bill sponsored by Senator Victor Umeh (Labour Party), Anambra Central, which calls for standard gauge for Eastern rail corridor.
The sociopolitical youth group in the South-East geopolitical zone, argued that it amounts to waste of resources to rehabilitate the old single guage railway “which is outdated and analogue.”
COSEYL in a statement by its President General, Comrade Goodluck Ibem, further argued that it amounts to injustice to link Lagos with Niger Republic on Standard gauge and still use antiquated single gauge from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri crisscrossing five geo-political zones.
According to COSEYL, Eastern rail track should also be accorded a befitting attention as given the Western corridor.
“We are in a digital age where standard guage is in vogue; using single gauge for Eastern corridor is clear injustice to the region,” the statement read.
COSEYL appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to “as a matter of national importance, construct the Eastern rail line that cuts across five geopolitical zones of South-South, South-East, North-Central, North-East and North-West using standard gauge just like the rail line that runs from Lagos to Niger Republic.”
The statement further read: “It amounts to waste of our resources to rehabilitate the old single guage railway with single gauge. We are in a digital age where standard guage is been used.
“It is cheaper and economical for the Federal Government to construct standard guage railway line from Port Harcourt, Aba, Enugu, Kafanchan, Jos, Bauchi to Maiduguri.
“Standard Gauge Railway Line will help cushion the effect of subsidy removal while also reducing the cost of transportation, cost of living and hardship which Nigeria are currently facing.”
COSEYL decried the high cost of goods in South-East especially food stuff from Northern region, blaming it on dilapidation of roads in the zone.
“Currently the cost of transportation is so high which has made the cost of goods mainly food items to be very expensive and exorbitant above the reach of the common man.
“The cost of 1 bag of onion previously sold for N30,000 is now sold for N120,000 because of the bad Federal road from Makurdi-Opi-Ninth mile Enugu road and Aba-Port Harcourt road. Trucks carrying perishable goods spend 6 days in Opi-Ninth mile-Enugu road before getting to their final destination, and the entire food items will be all destroyed and not good again for human consumption.
“Farmers and exporters can transport their goods from the North and other parts of the country to Port Harcourt for exports which will help the country to earn foreign earnings which will better the balance of trade and balance of payments thereby making the naira stronger to compete favourably with other foreign currencies like the dollar and pounds sterling.
“It is pertinent to state that the nation will recoup her investment of standard gauge railway system from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri as exporters will be using that rail line to promote the trade of the nation.
“We fully back the bill by the Nigerian Senate sponsored by Senator Victor Umeh for the construction of Eastern Railway Standard Gauge line to promote national and international trade and business.
“We therefore call on President Bola Tinubu to do his best in this regard so that the suffering which Nigerians are currently facing can be reduced to the barest minimum.”