Governors of Nigeria’s five southeastern states should introduce a special spare parts tax and use it to build a wonder of Africa

Ayo Akinfe

(1) One thing that makes my heart bleed is the fact that as a continent, Africa has very little man-made infrastructure to show the rest of the world. All we really have are the pyramids of Egypt

(2) At a time when the rest of the world is building the fastest, tallest and biggest of everything, we are fast asleep. In the case of Nigeria, one of the main reasons for this is because we are too dependent on the federal government for everything

(3) When I look at how there are at least six River Thames automobile crossings and countless railway underground crossings beneath the river, I ask myself how come the River Niger only has one between Asaba and Onitsha

(4) At the moment, the federal government is building the second automobile crossing but what stops the Anambra and Delta state governments from building six more of their own? No law in Nigeria prevents them from doing so

(5) When you look at the amount of money the five southeastern states could be generating if they had a railway link connecting Owerri, Enugu, Akwa, Abakaliki, Aba, Umuahia and Onitsha with Lagos, it is inexplicable that no one has done it yet. This is nothing but the poverty of thinking

(6) Just imagine the number of road accidents ‘it would cut, the amount of goods and services that could be moved across the country and the income that could be generated if we had a 250km per hour high speed Owerri to Lagos train that ran every hour

(7) Japan’s 53.85km Seikan tunnel is the longest and deepest rail tunnel in the world. It passes through Tsugaru Strait connecting the Hokkaido and Honshu islands. Our River Niger is only one kilometre wide, so building a railway tunnel underneath it should be easy

(8) London’s ongoing Crossrail project is 177km long and is estimated to cost about £18bn. Owerri to Lagos is 537km but it will now involve digging through a built-up city as we have with London Crossrail, so may actually cost less. For $20bn I am sure the project could be completed within five years

(9) There is nothing stopping the five states of the southeast from introducing a spare parts tax, payable by all working adults to fund such a venture. If you asked every adult in the southeast to pay an annual tax of say N5,000 to build this railway line, I am sure they would happily pay it. This is a tax that can easily be justified

(10) Nigerians have this fixation on the federal government, which has immensely curtailed our socio-economic development. There are many things local and state governments could easily do but do not because they have this mental obsession with Abuja. This railway line is one such project