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Nigeria is spending billions on its railways. Will it work?

By Ruth Olurounbi, in Abuja
Posted on Wednesday, 28 April 2021 13:13

Guests attend a ground breaking ceremony of a new line of an ongoing light rail construction project in Lagos, Nigeria, 15 April 15 2021.Photo by Emma Houston/Xinhua)

Nigeria is planning to spend tens of billions of dollars on its rail network in coming years; with $5bn worth of projects flagged off this year alone. The aim is to cut the spiralling cost of transporting goods around the country, boost property values outside of Lagos, and make travelling around the country safer.

When Lagos-based Miftah Adediran broke ground on his cashew and other cash-crop ­businesses in Ibadan about five years ago, he banked on the government’s promise of a railway that would help haul his crops to Lagos, whence they could make their way in trucks to the congested Apapa port for export. Next year, Adediran might finally get to export his crops from Ibadan, via a railway that goes all the way to the port.

On 25 January, China Civil Engineering Construction Corp­oration, the contractor handling the $1.6bn Lagos-Ibadan railway project, announced that it had linked the Lagos-Ibadan rail tracks to the Apapa port.