§ 11. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a detailed statement on the extent and condition of the railway systems in Nigeria, the plans for their renovation and extension, the estimated cost of the implementation of those plans, and on the financial provision made for their execution; and when the work will commence and be completed.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
As the reply is very long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Mr. Hughes
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving me a detailed reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Does he agree that the further railway development of Nigeria is necessary for the proper development and exploitation of the country and that it would be unfair to put the financial burden of that upon the new Government?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
It is not only desirable but absolutely vital for the development of Nigeria. I have no fear about adequate funds being available.
Following is the reply:The Nigerian railway system comprises some 1,770 route miles of 3 ft. 6 ins. gauge line connecting Nguru in the north and Lagos and Port Harcourt in the south. There are branch lines from Zaria to Kaura Namoda, Kafanchan to Jos, Minna to Baro and Ifaw to Idogo. The system is wholly single track.With the object of speeding up train movements and reducing operating costs the Nigerian Railway Corporation is at present undertaking a five-year programme of modernisation and improvement covering the period 1955–60, the estimated cost of which is £21½ million. The main items in the programme are the provision of new diesel electric locomotives, diesel railcar sets for suburban and branch line passenger service; new rolling stock for both passenger and freight, track 581 relaying and improvement, rebuilding of passenger and freight stations, extension and improvement of sidings, marshalling yards and other terminal facilities, new running sheds, modernisation of workshop plant and machinery, and improvement of the communications and signalling systems.At present the Railway Corporation has 214 mainline steam engines, 58 shunting engines, 10 diesel electric engines, 4,841 wagons, 496 coaches. There are on order 25 mainline diesel electric engines, four diesel shunting engines, two diesel railcars, 1,055 wagons and 69 coaches.The Corporation is also undertaking an extension of the existing railway system from Kuru, just south of Jos to Maiduguri in the Bornu Province in the north east of Nigeria, a distance of approximately 400 miles. The extension will be a single line track. It will open up a productive area which has hitherto lacked adequate communications and is expected to result in an increase of exportable products. Work is expected to commence forthwith and it is hoped that the extension will be completed by late 1963. The total cost of the project is estimated at £19½ million.The International Bank for reconstruction and development is providing a loan of £10 million towards the £41 million needed for the 1955–60 plan and for the Bornu extension. Of the balance £12 million will be provided by the Federal Government of Nigeria and £19 million from the railways' own resources.Tentative plans for an extension of the 1955–60 programme for a further five years are expected to cost about £19 million. Specific financial arrangements for this extended programme have not yet been made, but the Corporation expects that its own resources will nearly suffice with possibly some borrowing from the Federal Government.