A shocking revelation has emerged regarding the Nigerian government’s spending habits, as it is revealed that a staggering $62.66 million was allocated to service railway-related debts in the first quarter of 2023 alone. These eye-watering figures were unveiled in Nigeria’s external debt service payments report by the Debt Management Office, sparking anger and frustration among the public.
Digging deeper into the report, it becomes apparent that the Nigeria Railway Modernization Project has become a major drain on the nation’s finances. The Idu-Kaduna Section consumed a substantial $23.1 million, while the Lagos-Ibadan Section devoured $15.49 million. Additionally, the Nigeria-Abuja Light Rail Project gobbled up an alarming $24.07 million.
Worryingly, these figures mark a slight increase from the already staggering $61.73 million spent on railway debt servicing in the first quarter of 2022. The rising costs come at a time when the government is struggling to generate revenue from the railway sector, further exacerbating public frustration.
The National Bureau of Statistics reports that the decline in rail transportation passengers is exacerbating the outrage. A shocking 53.65% drop was witnessed, with the number of passengers plummeting from 953,099 in the first quarter of 2022 to a mere 441,725 in the first quarter of 2023.
Similarly, the transportation of goods also experienced a decline. In the same period, only 59,966 metric tonnes of goods were transported, compared to 39,379 metric tonnes in the first quarter of 2022. Revenue generated from passengers plunged by a staggering 63.02%, with a meager N768.44 million received, down from N2.08 billion in the previous year’s quarter.
Prominent economist Professor Sheriffdeen Tella of Olabisi Onabanjo University shed light on the concerning situation, attributing it to multiple factors such as insecurity and high transportation costs. He emphasised the need for the maintenance and upkeep of facilities to ensure a standard of operation.
As public anger mounts, questions are being raised about the government’s prioritisation of railway debt servicing while passenger numbers dwindle and revenue plummets. Concerned citizens are demanding transparency and accountability regarding the management of public funds and the future sustainability of the railway sector.