A number of separate railroads serve western Africa, with the largest single system in Nigeria. Most of these lines consist of a main stem running inland from each country's major port, together with a few branches.
Nigeria was the first to have a well-funded, developed railway system in Africa. But 52 years after independence, trains have virtually disappeared from the nation's tracks, leading to monumental human and economic loss, reports Sunday Oguntola.
Their primary function is the transportation of export and import freight, but they also handle substantial and generally increasing passenger traffic. Except in a few cases, each line is limited to its own country. There are also a number of separate railroads built specifically for hauling ore from mines in the interior to ports on the coast.
Nigeria, which was the first African nation to have a well-thought through and funded railway system, is now lagging behind. As far back as 1895, the Lagos railway became operational from Iddo to Ibadan. Almost 120 years after, 52 as an independent nation, Nigeria is spending over N31bn to reactivate the same track. The tracks between Zaria and Jos covering a distance of 194 kilometers (121 mi) has since been closed and removed. It's been backward steps all the way for the nation's rail sector.