The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission has begun discussions with some foreign partners over its plans to link at least 44 cities and towns in the South-West region by rail.
The Director-General, DAWN, Seye Oyeleye, said this in an interview with our correspondent on Wednesday.
Oyeleye said the recent constitutional amendment, which removed the railway from the exclusive list and placed it on the concurrent list, was a boost to the project.
He said the commission had been carrying out preparation towards the railway project, which will boost the revenue of the states in the region by at least 50 per cent, despite many encumbrances against it.
Oyeleye said the railway project would be accelerated the moment the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), signed the amendment to law.
He stated, “With the recent constitutional amendment, it was decided that railways would now be on the concurrent list, as opposed to the exclusive list.
“That has now re-energised those who we have been talking to before now. Just last week, we had a meeting with some potential partners on the proposed project. We had a virtual meeting and what prompted that was the fact that hopefully, once the constitutional amendment is signed into law by the President, railways will be on the concurrent list.
“Investors were foot-dragging before, but now, we are hoping that the amendment will be signed into law before the end of the current administration. The moment it is signed into law, our partners will now feel free to invest in railways.
“Despite the legal encumbrance, we have not stopped preparations for the project. Work has always been going on and will be accelerated now. It is good to know that the Senate and the House of Representatives are in agreement on the amendment. That is where we are now.
“Plans are ongoing, but it is a long process. However, we are buoyed by the fact that railway will now be an item on the concurrent list.”
Oyeleye said linking towns and cities in the region by rail would reduce urban migration from rural communities and would also develop the economies of smaller towns and villages.
He stated that with fast-moving trains, people could work in Lagos State and reside in Ekiti State, because the journey would not take more than two hours.
Oyeleye stated, “We need a country that is structured along the line of development. Nigeria needs to restructure in the line of development. With the revenue sharing formula that we operate, states will perpetually be under the Federal Government.
“If railway tracks are built to connect the South-West, 44 cities and towns will be connected and the gross domestic product of this region will rise by over 50 per cent. We need to confront everything that is not making this possible.
“We have tied ourselves to a constitution that is hindering development and this must change. It is in the interest of Nigeria that the South-West region should develop. If the region is developed, the Federal Government will make more money from here.”