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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March, 2005, 15:23 GMT
Novel Nigerian train trip begins
Two Nigerian ministers have started a week-long trip around the country to see at first hand the true state of the railway network.

The ministers will travel 3,000km along two lines from the south to the north.

The BBC's Mannir Dan Ali in Nigeria says the network is in such a bad state that many people do not know it is still working.

But Minister of State in the Transport Ministry Alhaji Musa Azhi said he hoped to attract private investors.

These would be allowed to operate the network and make a profit on a long-term deal of 25-30 years, he said.

"The government is not going to spend another naira on Nigeria's railways," he said.

Strikes

Mr Azhi said he had seen one report which said "everything was bad and in a catastrophic situation" but said a World Bank consultant had painted a more favourable picture.

"We want to see things for ourselves," he said.

They will spend four days travelling from Lagos on the coast to Kauran-Namoda on the fringes of the Sahara desert.

After a three-day rest, they will go from Port Harcourt to Nguru, he said.

Two years ago, the government announced a huge programme to invest some $60bn into the railways after decades of under-investment but little has changed.

Our correspondent says the railways are plagued by strikes, with workers complaining of late payment of their wages.


SEE ALSO:
Timeline: Nigeria
05 Mar 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Nigeria
25 Feb 05 |  Country profiles


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