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December 7, 2017 -- They were built by the British, neglected by the Nigerians, and are now being revitalized by the Chinese. 

Regression to the norm  — or baseline — is the fate of any people group. The question is: What is the baseline? 

From BBC ▼

Getting Nigeria's railways back on track with China's help

Nigeria has unveiled a major railway expansion project to ease congestion on roads and to boost the economy, writes Ijeoma Ndukwe from the commercial capital, Lagos.

A train pulls into Ebute Meta station on mainland Lagos. The station is housed within an old railway compound built during British rule in Africa's most populous state with a population of more than 185 million.

Some 57 years after independence, colonial buildings, relics of a bygone era, remain the headquarters of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

Driving towards the station, I catch glimpses of decades-old tracks overgrown with grass.

Discarded carriages, train parts and equipment are scattered around the compound.

A 30-minute train ride upstate takes us to a station called Iju, in a suburb of Lagos.

We are at a building site alongside the old railway line where workers are laying the foundation for new train tracks by hand.

They are constructing 144km (90 miles) of modern tracks connecting the bustling coastal city of Lagos to Nigeria's third-largest city, Ibadan, in the second stage of the government's railway modernisation project.

The first - the railway between the capital, Abuja, and the northern city of Kaduna - was completed last year.

The third will be to link Kano in the north of the country to the coastal cities of Port Harcourt and Lagos in the south.

Damaged roads

The work, NRC managing director Freeborn Okhiria explains, is aimed at upgrading the rail to a wider track.

"It's easier and faster and cheaper," he says. "You can move more people, more goods, more speed, better poundage of the rail - instead of moving 40 tonnes per wagon you can move 80 tonnes."

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