Transport in Nigeria

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Map of Nigeria (source: CIA's The World Factbook)

Decaying infrastructure is one of the deficiencies that Nigeria's National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) seeks to address. The government has begun to repair the country’s poorly maintained road network. Because Nigeria's railways are in a parlous condition, the government is trying to rectify the situation by privatizing the Nigerian Railway Corporation. Similarly, the government is pursuing a strategy of partial port privatization by granting concessions to private port operators so that they can improve the quality of port facilities and operations.


The Nigerian Railway map

Railways in Nigeria are operated by the Nigerian Railway Corporation.

As of 2003, Nigeria's rail system had 3,557 kilometers of track, 19 kilometers of which were dual gauge and the remainder, standard gauge. The country has two major rail lines: one connects Lagos on the Bight of Benin and Nguru in the northern state of Yobe; the other connects Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta and Maiduguri in the northeastern state of Borno. As of March 2006, Nigeria and Niger expected to move forward with plans to establish a rail link between the two countries. Nigeria is also seeking a rail link with Cameroon, but discussions are more contentious in the aftermath of the International Court of Justice's October 2002 verdict in favor of Cameroon on the issue of control of the Bakasi Peninsula. In order to remedy the poor condition, efficiency, and profitability of the nation's railways, the government is seeking to privatize the Nigerian Railway Corporation. Under the privatization plan, three separate concessions of 25–30 years would be granted to private-sector companies to run train services in the western, central, and eastern regions.[1]

  • total: 3,557 km
    • narrow gauge:
      • 3,505 km 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge
      • 19 km 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge convertible to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
    • standard gauge: 329 km 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) gauge

note: Years of neglect of both the rolling stock and the right-of-way have seriously reduced the capacity and utility of the system. A project to restore Nigeria's railways is now underway. A project to convert the gauge of the system to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) has also somewhat stalled. Couplings of the chopper kind, vacuum brakes and non-roller bearing plain axles are also obsolete.

There are no rail links to neighbouring countries.





  • 21 July 2007: YENEGOA-PORT HARCOURT LINE - According to the Daily Champion (published in Lagos), the Nigerian states Bayelsa and Rivers are to embark on the construction of a high-speed rail line to connect Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, and Port Harcourt. The Governor Timipre Sylva made this announcement when he met Nigerian Agip Oil Company managing director Antonio Panza in Yenagoa recently.[3]
  • February 2007: Inland Container Depot under construction at Jos.
  • Abuja Light Rail construction begins.


Kano Railway Line[edit]

30 October 2006: President Olusegun Obasanjo signed a contract with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation [4] to modernise the Lagos to Kano railway line. This is the first phase of the proposed 3 phase line upgrade. The project has been split up into 5 sections namely Lagos-Ibadan (181 km), Ibadan-Ilorin (200 km), Ilorin-Minna (270 km), Minna–Abuja–Kaduna (360 km), and Kaduna-Kano (305 km).

8 June 2006: development of Inland Container Depots (ICD) is proposed for a number of sites.[5]

Fast rail[edit]

22 March 2006: in terms of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Nigeria’s federal Government on 16 March, the Guangdong Xinguang International Group is to construct a revolutionary “fast” rail (RFR) system from Lagos to the capital Abuja (where there is no existing railway) as well as rail transit lines to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport from Lagos city and to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport from the Abuja city centre.

According to the minister of commerce, $US2billion has been made available to start the projects, and the Chinese company will also invest in the three planned stages of the projected Abuja light rail system.[6]

Okokomaiko-Marina Blue Line[edit]

In April 2008, the Lagos State Government approved 70 billion for construction of the Okokomaiko-Iddo-Marina Line, with an estimated completion date of 2011.[7] Advisory services are being provided by CPCS Transcom Limited, an Infrastructure Development consulting firm based in Ottawa, Canada. Construction actually commenced in January 2010, and completion is now expected in 2015. The Blue Line is now being built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation. The Blue Line will run 27.5 km from Marina to Okokomaiko, with 13 stations. End-to-end journey time will be approximately 35 minutes. It is being built as a high capacity, electrically powered rail mass transit system. Most of the route will be on the surface, running east-west, in the central reservation of the rebuilt Badagry Expressway between Igbo-Elerin Road (Okokomaiko) and Iganmu. The line will run on elevated structure from Iganmu along the south side of the expressway passing the junction with Eric Moore Road, crossing just south of the National Theatre to Iddo, then south to Lagos Island with a terminal at Marina. Construction is underway between National Theatre and Mile 2. A Maintenance and Storage Facility (MSF) will be constructed at Okokomaiko, with a track connection from the Blue Line to the depot. The entire Blue Line will operate over a secure and exclusive right-of-way, with no level crossings and no uncontrolled access by pedestrians or vehicles. Lagos State is financing construction of the Blue Line from its own resources. A concession contract is being awarded to finance, supply and operate the railway equipment, including electric power, signalling, trains, and fare collection.


Lagos 1 galleryfull.jpg

Nigeria has the largest road network in West Africa and the second largest south of the Sahara, with roughly 108,000 km of surfaced roads in 1990.

However they are poorly maintained and are often cited as a cause for the country’s high rate of traffic fatalities. In 2004 Nigeria’s Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) began to patch the 32,000-kilometre federal roads network, and in 2005 FERMA initiated a more substantial rehabilitation. The rainy season and poor equipment pose challenges to road maintenance.[1]

These are the portions that are already modernized at motorway and expressway standard:

Motorway Number Route Built Planned Remarks
A1 Agapa Rd - E1 15 km
A1 Oyo – Ogbomosho 35 km u/c, end of 2015
A2 Warri – Benin City 77 km Benin City Bypass
A2 Madalla/Abuja (A234) – Kaduna (A235) 179
A2 Kaduna North – Kano 221 Ring Road/Eastern Bypass
A3 Port Harcourt (E-W Rd) – Umuahia (Umu Opara Rd. /Mission Hill) 100
A3 Okigwe – Enugu (A343) 87
A3 Enugu – Ngwo (A232) 13
A5 Papalanto – Abeokuta 37
A121 Logbara/Sagamu(E1) - Benin City (A121, Benin City Bypass) 247 Shagamu- Benin Expy
A122 Ibadan – Ife 63 Ibadan – Ife Expy
A232 Benin City (Benin City Bypass) – Agbor (Aliagu Rd.) 46
A232 Agbor (Lagos -Asaba Rd.) – Enugu (A3) 161
A234 Abuja North Bypass (Gado Nasko Rd. – Murtalla Mohammed Expy) 25
E1 Ring Rd Apongbon St – A1 21.5 Lagos East Bypass
- Apapa – Oworonshoki- Tin Can Access - Creek Road 28.5 Apapa – Oworonshoki Expy/ West and South Lagos Bypass
- Ring Rd Apongbon St – A1 80 Lagos - Badagry Expy
- Ijora Cause Way 2 Lagos South Bypass
- Eko Bridge - Apongbon St 4 Eko Bridge
- Murtala Mohammed Expy 5 Abuja East Bypass
- Nnamdi Azikiwe Expy 14 Abuja West Bypass
- Airport Rd. /Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Rd. 38 Abuja South Bypass

Figures from CIA World Factbook (1999):
Total: 194,394 km
paved: 60,068 km (including 1,194 km of expressways)
unpaved: 134,326 km (1998 est.)
note: Some paved roads have lost their asphalt surface and are in very poor condition or have reverted to being gravel roads. Some of the road system is barely usable, especially in high rainfall areas of the south.

International highways[edit]

Nigeria's strategic location and size results in four routes of the Trans-African Highway network using its national road system:


Nigeria has 8,600 km of inland waterways. The longest are the Niger River and its tributary, the Benue River[1] but the most used, especially by larger powered boats and for commerce, are in the Niger Delta and all along the coast from Lagos Lagoon to Cross River.


In 2004 Nigeria had 105 kilometers of pipelines for condensates, 1,896 kilometers for natural gas, 3,638 kilometers for oil, and 3,626 kilometers for refined products. Various pipeline projects are planned to expand the domestic distribution of natural gas and to export natural gas to Benin, Ghana, Togo through the West African Gas Pipeline, and, potentially, even to Algeria (where Mediterranean export terminals are located) by proposed Trans-Saharan gas pipeline. Energy pipelines are subject to sabotage by militant groups or siphoning by thieves.[1]

crude oil 2,042 km; petroleum products 3,000 km; natural gas 500 km

Ports and harbors[edit]

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is responsible for managing Nigeria’s ports, some of which have fallen behind international standards in terms of the quality of facilities and operational efficiency. Recognizing that the government lacks the funding and expertise to modernize facilities and run the ports efficiently, the NPA is pursuing partial port privatization by means of granting concessions to private port operators. Under the terms of concession agreements, the government would transfer operating rights to private companies for a finite number of years without forgoing ownership of the port land. Nigeria’s principal container port is the port of Lagos, which handles about 5.75 million tons of cargo each year. The port, which consists of separate facilities at Apapa and Tin Can Island, has a rail connection to points inland. Port Harcourt, a transshipment port located 66 kilometers from the Gulf of Guinea along the Bonny River in the Niger Delta, handles about 815,000 tons of cargo each year and also has a railway connection. Both ports are not only responsible for Nigeria’s seaborne trade but also serve inland countries such as Niger and Chad. A new port is under construction at Onne about 25 kilometers south of Port Harcourt. Relatively modern and efficient terminals managed by multinational oil companies handle most oil and gas exports.[1]

Atlantic Ocean[edit]

Merchant marine[edit]

The Nigerian Merchant Navy is not a legally recognized body, but the senior officers are represented by the Merchant Navy Officers' and Water Transport Senior Staff Association.[8][9] The maritime industry is regulated by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which is responsible for regulations related to Nigerian shipping, maritime labor and coastal waters. The agency also undertakes inspections and provides search and rescue services.[10]

total: 40 ships (1,000 gross register tons (GRT) or over) totaling 360,505 GRT/644,471 tonnes deadweight (DWT)
ships by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo ship 12, chemical tanker 4, petroleum tanker 22, specialized tanker 1 (1999 est.)

Airport & Airlines[edit]

Main article: Airports in Nigeria

Nigeria’s principal airports are Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. Three other international airports are Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano, Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu and Port Harcourt International Airport in Port Harcourt. Overall, Nigeria’s airports, whether international or regional, suffer from a poor reputation for operational efficiency and safety. Private domestic air carriers began to win business at the expense of Nigeria Airways, the former government-owned national airline which was declared bankrupt in 2004. The national flag carrier of Nigeria was Air Nigeria, in which Virgin Atlantic owns 49% and the remaining 51% by Nigerian investors until Virgin withdrew from the partnership on September 18, 2009.[11] The national flag carrier then became Air Nigeria which suspended operations in 2012.[12] Arik Air is now a large airline serving Nigeria and has transported over 10 million passengers.[13]

Airports - with paved runways[edit]

total: 38
over 3,047 m: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 11
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 3 (2010 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways[edit]

total: 16
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 2 (2010 est.)


1 (1999 est.) 2 (2006) There are at least 15 Heliports to date including those in the Oil sector


  1. ^ a b c d e Library of Congress Country Studies, Nigeria.
  2. ^ Railway Gazette International October 2008, p217 (Map)
  3. ^
  4. ^ CCECC
  5. ^ Container Depots
  6. ^
  7. ^ ^ a b Bisiriyu, Rasheed (April 11, 2008). "N70bn Lagos light rail ready in 2011". The Punch.
  8. ^ PHILIP NWOSU (December 21, 2007). "Fake Commodore arrested over military outfit". Online Nigeria. Retrieved 2011-06-23. 
  9. ^ Andrew Airahuobhor (5 August 2010). "Police Can't Ban Merchant Navy - Kemewerigha". The Daily Independent (Lagos). Retrieved 2011-06-23. 
  10. ^ "About NIMASA". NIMASA. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^

General references[edit]

External links[edit]