Why Standard Gauge Rail Must Be Extended To Agricultural Based Areas – Onyido, A Businessman Tells Buhari

By Godwin Obi, Lagos

 Emeka Onyido , a Kano based businessman, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and minister of Transportation, to link  Agricultural based Communities with large markets with the standard gauge rail line.

Onyido noted that these would go a long way to facilitate the easy evacuation of Agricultural products from the villages to the Cities  and thus, reduce the high cost of goods in the Cities, particular Lagos, Port Harcourt, Umuahia , Makurdi and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

 According to him with the level of work being done  on the major agricultural cities on the western region  rail corridor  which had linked up many Agricultural based rural Communities, the government should now consider linking up the cities like Makurdi, Capital of Benue state and Umuahia in the south east part of the country with the standard guage rail line project.

  He stressed that the $10 billion loan secured by the Katsina state born Nigerian President  from China Development Bank   and  the World Bank should not be completely  spent on  the western and northern corridor standard rail guage project,  leaving out the north Central and south east out of it.

In an interview with The Value News recently, the Kano based businessman urged the government to prioritise citing of rail lines in the country,  according to the needs of the society, emphasising that  areas with higher volume of agricultural produce and large markets should be  be first connected with the standard  rail gauge.

Onyido  who is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Mozida Hotels and Suites Ltd, Kano, stated that rail transport is the best means of transportation  the world over, stating that it was the rail transport that made India and China what the  two Asian countries are today. As a businessman, he described the rail transport as being  ‘cheaper, safer and makes movement  of goods and  service a lot easier’.

The Onosolueze of Ogidi also urged the government to provide an enabling  environment  and  stable electricity supply in the country for investment to thrive .  He cited investors in the Hospitality sector of the economy who are no longer  finding it funny  because of  thehigh cost of diesel to run their own private  generators daily.

  “For those of us in the hospitality business, after burning fuel most of the time, the inflow of capital are  grossly affected’’, he had said., He averred  that the  high cost of running the business  had forced many of them to shift part of the cost to  the Customers”. He further  alluded to  the  7.5%, Value Added tax, VAT, of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, which is eating deep into their profit.

  The Anambra born Hotelier is worried that there is much of Igbo people’s investment outside the south  east geo-political region, noted that  until the Igbo Entrepreneurs  begin to fall in line  by investing in the region in order to force the government to provide the basic infrastructural  facilities, particular, the revival of the Onitsha  Inland port the southeast, the  may continue to be starved of government presence.  

 Given the impact of the hate speech on investment in the country, particular, in the south east, Onyido, who could not hide his feelings ,  as he appealed to the proponents of the hate speech bill to jettison it, explaining that the hate speech had been taken care of by the freedom of Information Act. He could not spare the Economic Management Team set up by the President over their failure  to come up with an economic blue print  that could take the country’s battered economy out of the woods.

Appealing to the government to see insecurity and Youth unemployment as the greatest challenge confronting  the nation now, he disclosed  that the earlier the issues as well as piracy and other criminal activities are holistically addressed  the better for business to thrive .

Many believe that Onyido who is fast redefining hospitality business with  the Mozida Hotels and Suites in Kano, had set a standard for other Igbo investors, both within and outside the country to emulate.

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