THERE IS encouraging news for rail users in Nigeria. The Ministry of Transport has given details of plans to lease motive power from South Africa to haul freight, while 50 more locos are being acquired from China for passenger trains. Recent developments include the launch of a regular passenger service over the 390 km between Lagos and Ilorin ’with modern catering services and secure baggage compartments’; this is intended to relieve overcrowding on trains between Lagos and Kano.

Even more is in the pipeline. President Olusegun Obasanjo has announced a 25-year programme to transform Nigerian Railway Corp into a ’modern transportation system’. Details remain sketchy, apart from yet another commitment to convert the 1067mm gauge network to 1435mm gauge. According to NRC Managing Director Alhaji Abdullahi Abubakar, plans to privatise operations have been scrapped, although non-core activities will be offered to the private sector. In the meantime NRC has started removing ’illegal structures’ from its property.