Twice more people, goods switch to trains in 2021

More Nigerians are travelling by train and more goods are equally being transported using the rail system, as shown by the National Bureau of Statistics’ Rail Transportation Data for 2021, with insecurity making the predominant road transport increasingly hazardous. Yet, the rail tracks are not completely safe too, as attacks have seen passengers abducted and rail infrastructure destroyed.

In 2021, a total of 2.7 million passengers travelled by train in comparison to 1.02 million passengers in 2020, an increase of 166.03 percent. The volume of commodities moved also increased to 168,301 tons in 2021 compared to 87,440 tons in 2020, a growth rate of 92.48 percent. As volumes grew, so did revenue with railway generating a total of N6.01 billion from both passengers and commodities in the year ending 2021.

The revenue generated from passengers increased by 226.44 percent to N5.7 billion in 2021 compared to the N1.75 billion recorded in 2020, while revenue generated from goods increased by 12.87 percent to N317.57 million compared to N281.35 million in 2020.

Further breakdown shows that the nation’s rail network systems lifted 2.59 million passengers in 2017. In 2018, the total number of passengers that used the nation’s rail networks rose by 16 percent to 3.019 million. In 2019, the number of passengers fell by 4 percent to 2.89 million. It further fell by 65 percent to 1.02 million in 2020.

On the other hand, cargo revenue rose from N373.95 million in 2017 to N492.93 million in 2018. The revenue declined by 26 percent in 2019 to N362.88 million. It witnessed a further decline of 22 percent to N281.35 million in 2020. But with the gradual recovery of the economy, there was a 12.87 percent increase in revenue between 2020 and 2021, from N281.4 billion in 2020 to N317.6 billion in 2021. Also, revenue described as other income receipts in 2021 stood at N66.80 million, higher than the N5.19 million recorded in the preceding year.

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With a 16.25 percent real GDP growth rate at the end of 2021, the transport sector is one of the beneficiaries after the lockdown in Nigeria, Another vital trend within this sector is that the sub-sector within the transportation and storage sector closed the year with a positive real GDP growth rate.

Throughout 2020, for obvious reasons linked to the pandemic, transportation activities were at their lowest state, and the real GDP growth rate for the subsectors was negative.

Rail transport pipeline sub-sector, in particular, recorded real growth of 36.95 percent, as it placed it among the top five highest growth subsectors.

The highest positive sectoral growth rate is linked to the rail transport sub-sector, following the huge investment made by the federal government in commissioning the $1.5billion 157-kilometre Lagos Ibadan standard gauge railway project in Lagos state.

Meanwhile, certain factors might hamper the sustainability of the recovery seen in the nation’s transport system. At the beginning of the previous year, the Kano to Lagos train service was claimed to have broken down due to a mechanical issue. It took 30 hours and 30 minutes (1 day, 6 hours, and 30 minutes) to fix, leaving passengers stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Similarly, because of the reported destruction of railway tracks by certain vandals in February 2021, the train service between Ibadan and Lagos was temporarily suspended.

Also, following an attack by terrorists that included explosives and gunfire in October 2021, the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) decided to halt train operations along the Abuja-Kaduna route.

The sector contributed 2.01 percent to nominal GDP in the fourth quarter of 2021, an increase from 1.84 percent in the corresponding period in 2020, and higher than 1.57 percent recorded in the third quarter of 2021.

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