The International Steam Pages

Commissioning of the Nigerian Railway Museum

The Nigerian Railway Museum (Jaekel House) was officially commissioned on 13th May 2010 by Engr. S. Sijuade, MD Nigerian Railway Corp. and on 15th May 2010 there was a presentation Professor John Godwin (see below). Unfortunately, the residual steam locomotives do not seem to have benefited from this burst of activity. Thanks to Thomas Kautzor for bringing this to my attention.

This newspaper report was published locally after the event:

"Lagos - It is often said that the pride of a nation lies in the ability to preserve its heritage by transmitting story of the past to the succeeding generations. This saying was recently demonstrated when, Legacy, a historical and environmental interest group in Nigeria, took up the challenge to restore the Jaekel House, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC)'s mini museum at the corporation's headquarters in Ebutte-Metta, Lagos.

Before now, Jaekel House which was built about 100 years ago, a unique period-type property, which sits on a fairly large expanse of its own private compound, had since lapsed into obscurity, notwithstanding its rich pedigree which is deeply steeped in antiquity.

The mini museum 'Jaekel House' was named after late Francis Jaekel, a former superintendent of Railways who retired in the seventies after almost thirty years of service and later had written a history of the Nigerian railways in three volumes which was published in 1998.

Professor John Godwin who gave insight into the project during the commissioning last week paid tribute to some ex railway men who saw the historic value of the older buildings and artefacts and asked Legacy to form a joint committee with NRC to open a railway museum.

Godwin, a Professor in the department of Architecture at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) said the restoration of the mini museum gulped over N7 million and about N2 million is still needed to finish the landscaping and repair the outbuildings.

According to the Professor, the original construction of the building was derived from the early typology of colonial houses built in equatorial latitudes around the world, a design which made use of the natural cooling breezes to alleviate the heat and humidity.

Thus, the standard designs were planned for the working and living spaces to be at first floor level with large overhangs to shade the occupants from the sun. The core of the structure was built in brick, or in this case pre-cast concrete blocks, a technology then in its infancy. The floors and roofs above ground are in timber, with windows, jalousies and doors in similar material.

Professor Godwin noted that parts of the building were prefabricated in England from standard elements manufactured in pitch pine which is a strong resinous termite resistant wood, adding that much of the timber came from the US and eventually massive exploitation denuded the vast forests in the environment.

Godwin said there is still a great deal to be done including proper mounting of the exhibition, furnishing the research laboratories, and more lighting.

Meanwhile, on its part, NRC has engaged in massive renovations of its facilities especially the track lines, signalling and telecommunications, as well as wagons and coaching facilities.

In a statement made available to the media, the Assistant Director, Public Relations, Mr. David Ndakotsu said NRC has extended the on-going rehabilitation to renovation of corporate offices.

In the statement, the managing director of NRC Mr Adeseyi Sijuwade stated that all the dilapidated fixtures like windows and doors were been replaced with aluminium type, adding that the over 100 years roof on the frontage on the management block which leaked every rainy season had now been replaced with aluminium roof.

'Both the exterior and the interior parts of the building have all been painted, other offices under repair include Legal, Estate and valuations, Public Relations, MD's confidential and Ebutte-Metta railway Station' he disclosed."

That's all there is about the museum but readers may be interested in the rest of the report:

"Daily Champion recalled that in recent time the railway has received major attention from the government hence a lot rehabilitation works are going on in the nation's rail sector aimed at achieving national economic transformation.

"I cannot remember in the last few years of any government that has committed over $500m to the revival of the railways alone in just one year." This was the assertion of the former minister of Transportation, Alhaji Ibrahim Isa Bio, when he emphasized Federal Government's commitment on the revival of the corporation.

Bio who expressed satisfaction on the level of job done so far in the rehabilitation programme of the government noted that the Federal Government has committed considerable financial resources to various projects aimed at reviving the ailing Nigeria Railway by 2010.

Nigerian Railway Corporation was hitherto enmeshed in myriads of constraints and challenges, but following recent FG's realistic approach and determination, the ailing corporation is presently undergoing holistic and aggressive rehabilitation. Surprisingly, the present management of NRC has become dynamic and proactive in its supervision of the rehabilitation role thanks to the recent mobilization by the government.

According to literatures obtained from NRC management, contract for the construction of single track standard gauge spanning a distance of 186 km length was awarded to CCECC on October 26, 2009, at the cost of $849m.

This is in addition to Lagos-Kaduna modernization project which construction work is expected to commence as soon as advance payment is made, the detailed rescoping having been completed as the sum of $24m paid to TEAM Consultants for its consultancy on the project.

It was gathered that the scope of work for Lagos-Ibadan segment is under review together with its cost implications while the contract award is being represented to Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.

On the Ajaokuta- Warri line, the scope of project, which initially was to cover the awarded contract for the completion of the 22 km track distance left out of the 254 km Ajaokuta-Warri line, has now been widened to accommodate the rehabilitation of the entire 254 km; construction of six stations; reconstruction of undermined bridges and culverts; major remobilization of contractor to sites; and security management. The contract for completion of the 22 km track work was awarded on November 12, 2009. Further improvement of security situation in the Niger Delta region would encourage prompt completion of the contract having negotiated the Tender sum to N31.1 billion for Messrs. Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and N2 billion for TEAM consultants respectively, and presented to FEC for approval on November 4, 2009.

After survey and Tender documents for Lagos-Jebba (Contract 1) and Jebba-Kano (Contract 2) have been completed by rehabilitation consultants, Messrs Roughton and Messrs. Zetatech, rehabilitation contract of the Lagos-Jebba was awarded to CCECC at the cost of N12.3 billion as approved by FEC on October 7, 2009. The contract which is said to be completed within a 10-month time space was actually awarded on November 6, 2009 when the contract agreement was formally signed.

Speaking on the recent rehabilitation programmes on recently, the managing director of NRC, Mr. Adeseyi Sijuwade said over 100 projects are on-going, adding that "Nigerians are expectant of the multiple socio-economic derivatives that await them in an effective rail transport sub-sector which the FG is poised to achieve through the on-going rehabilitation"

Other contracts awarded within the ambience of the holistic rehabilitation the corporation is undergoing, as approved by FEC so far include: supply of 100 tons telescopic crane for recovery of damaged wagons and rolling stocks, lifting jacks, hydraulic jacks, supply and installation of generating sets (1000kva generator for Mechanical/ Electrical workshops at Ebutte-Metta already supplied, installed and commissioned by the House Committee on Land Transport). Also Agbado and other stations were rehabilitated while mechanical parts, modification of microwave equipment, lump stones and relevant materials have been supplied for maintenance work."

Rob Dickinson