Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 8 June 2017 | 1,533 times
The Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, (ONICCIMA) on Tuesday condemned the exclusion of the South-East zone from the recently released plan for a nation-wide railway modernisation project across the country.
ONICCIMA demanded that the project valued at $5.851 billion should be spread across all the geo-political zones of the country to give them a sense of belonging.
They maintained that it was ironical that only the South-East zone of the country was excluded from the proposed railway line project.
In a press statement issued in Onitsha and signed by its President, Pharm. Uchenna Apakama, ONICCIMA observed that out of the six geo-political zones in the country, it is only the South-East that was not included in this strategic project plan that has the potential of opening corridors of social and economic doors for expansion.
The statement reads: “To the Chamber, this is a clearly designed effort aimed at crippling the economic and developmental potentials of the South-East region for no justifiable reason other than political.
“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 as a calculated setback and slight on millions of the Organized Private Sector (OPS) in the Zone, in particular, and the South East 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 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 Second Niger Bridge, which is yet to take off, despite repeated assurances by this administration? What of the Enugu/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 marginalisation of the Zone is endless.
“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.”
ONICCIMA, however, appealed to the Federal Government to reconsider its decision and include the South East zone in the proposed rail project as a matter of equity.
According to them, no part of the country should be marked out for what they described as designed ill-treatments and marginalisation – as the South-East zone has been witnessing.
They added that it a huge legacy for 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 personalised considerations.
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