Onitsha Chamber of Commerce raises the alarm over exclusion of S/East from railway project

The Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, ONICCIMA has expressed concern over what it termed willful exclusion of the South-East Zone from the recently released plan for a nation-wide railway modernisation project across the country valued at 5.851 billion dollars.

ONICCIMA said it was ironical that only South East zone of the country was excluded from the proposed railway line project which no doubt, would surely usher in tremendous economic and social benefits on the nation, and the benefiting zones when implemented as envisaged.

In a press statement issued in Onitsha and signed by its

President, Mr Uchenna Apakama, ONICCIMA contended that out of the six geo-political zones in the country, it is only the Southeast zone that was not included in this strategic project plan.

According to the statement, “To the chamber, this is a clearly designed effort aimed at crippling the economic and developmental potentials of the Southeast region for no justifiable reason other than political”.

The statement queried: “How could the Minister of Transport or the Federal Government defend this sheer disregard, through the denial of the rail project, of the South-East which is noted worldwide for its prowess in industrialisation, trade and commerce?”

“This, therefore, seems a calculated setback and slight on millions of the Organised Private Sector, OPS operators in the zone, in particular, and the entire citizenry of Southeast in general, whose businesses and lives will, invariably, be negatively affected in no small measure due to this singular exclusion.”

“We wish to recall, with the same sadness and disbelief, similar action of the Federal Government against the socio-economic interest of people of the South-East, such as the Onitsha River Port Complex,which has remained decrepit since 2012, when it was commissioned – because the Federal Government is yet to fund the concessionaries”.

“What of the 2ndNiger Bridge,which is yet to take off, despite repeated assurances by this administration? What of theEnugu/Onitsha Expressway and many other Federal roads in the South/East, which have become perpetual death traps”?

“Again, it is only the South-East Zone that has only but five states and fewer local government areas than any other zones throughout the country.  In fact, the list of these acts of marginalization of the Zone is endless and the  Chamber is, therefore appealing to the Federal Government to reconsider its decision and include the South-East in the rail project, without any second thought, as a matter of equity, justice and fairness”.

“No part of this country should be marked out for designed ill-treatments and marginalization – as the South-East Zone has been witnessing. Moreover, it will be to the eternal credit of President Muhammadu Buhari, as the father of the nation, if he could see all parts of the country as his single constituency, without political, religious, tribal or any other personalized considerations”.

“No nation has ever attained her greatness in the face of grave injustice, maltreatment and aberrant exclusion of a significant part of its own, as the South-East Zone has been experiencing in this country and as already noted here, excluding only the South/East zone from the railway project, as it is now, can never at any given time, pass integrity test of social justice, fairness and objectivity”.

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