The claim by President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration that it has transformed the country’s railway sector is fraudulent and bogus, the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organization has said.
The campaign organization, Thursday, said President Jonathan had often repeated, while campaigning for re-election that he resuscitated the country’s railways, which he says had been moribund for over 20 years, a claim that it said was a hoax.
“The Director General of his campaign, Senator Ahmadu Ali, even stretches this moribund hyperbole to 35 years”, the campaign’s media and publicity director, Malam Garba Shehu said, adding that “on the campaign trail, the railway lies just seem to keep tumbling out”.
Among the claims, which the Buhari spokesperson described as lies, are the president’s statement during his campaign rallies that his government has rehabilitated and built about 3,500 km of railways.
“They have done no such thing as only about 2,000km have so far been rehabilitated and less than 250km of new track has been built”, Shehu said.
The APCPCO further explained that the quality of work done on these rehabilitation left a lot to be desired, because the government had shown a preference towards issuing contracts to their cronies, regardless of whether they had the essential skills or experience.
“A railway expert advises that the real test of the integrity of the more recently rehabilitated track infrastructure is when the rainy season arrives”, he said.
The statement also pointed out that the huge railway contracts awarded by the PDP-led Jonathan government do not include most of the railway sidings and passing loops, effectively limiting the capacity of the lines in terms of the number of trains that can run on them at any time, thus making an unviable rail service even more unviable.
“They also do not say why the railway track rehabilitation which were supposed to take 10 months have taken 4 years and counting”, Shehu said.
The campaign also referred to the Jonathan government’s claim that it had commenced work on the Lagos-Calabar coastal railway line as “another big fat lie”.
It queried thus: “How can they commence work on a project that has no appropriation? How can they commence construction on a project without a signed contract? Or is a memorandum of understanding now a contract?”
“In any case”, it added, “why is the scope of work being described as Lagos to Calabar, when the Lagos-Ibadan part of the route is in another contract (i.e. the Obasanjo initiated Lagos-Kano contract)? Will he pay twice for Lagos-Ibadan? With the addition of Benin-Onitsha to the coastal line, what is the new cost and how is he going to pay for it all; with more loans while the nation bleeds financially?”
The campaign organization said all these lies were simply evidence of an over-active imagination.
“One railway project Mr President and his media personnel have been silent about is the Abuja Rail Mass Transit. What Mr President will not tell the people is how many Nigerians truly benefit from the hundreds of billions purportedly spent on the rehabilitation of rail lines and whether value for money has been achieved. What he will not tell Nigerians, is that it costs about N10, 000 per passenger to produce that Lagos-Kano service, which his railway corporation sells at N1, 930 per passenger.
“What he will not tell Nigerians is the number of derailment that have taken place on the Lagos-Kano line as a result of poor quality track work”, Shehu said.