GOVERNMENT officials have recommenced the transport of cattle by rail across the country after a 30 year break in the practise as part of steps to end the ongoing clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farming communities.
Over recent years, herdsmen and farmers have clashed repeatedly over the vexed matter of grazing rights as livestock have been known to damage crops, leading to bitter disputes. This has frequently led to bitter clashes as heavily armed Fulani herdsmen have been known to attack communities with AK47 assault rifles, leavings dozens or even hundreds dead in their wake.
In a bid to find a solution to the problem, the Nigerian Railways Corporation (NRC) has resumed transportation of cattle and rams from the northern part of the country to the south. Apparently, the last time cattle were moved from the north to the south of Nigeria was in 1986 but since then, the collapse of the NRC had ended the practise.
Yesterday, a 15-wagon train carrying cows and rams arrived at the Iju Train Station, Lagos at exactly 3.30 pm. The train, which left Gusau, Zamfara State at about 4am Friday arrived in Lagos after stops in Minna, Niger State; Ibadan, Oyo State and Ifo in Ogun State, during a journey lasted approximately 36 hours as against the usual three days that it takes to transport the cattle by road.
The initiative, which is planned as a weekly shuttle was as a result of the partnership between NRC, Connect Rail Service and the Zamfara State Association of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Rearers Association. It was funded by the Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (Nirsal), an arm of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Nirsal had two days ago in Gusau, Zamfara flagged off the commencement of its National Farm to Market Scheme which aims to provide low cost transport link between agricultural producers and consumers across the country with an initial focus on livestock movement from north to south by rail. The departure was witnessed by the deputy governor, officials of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and CBN as well as representatives of international development partners and international finance institutions.