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By Nwachukwu J. Obiakor, PhD &
Abuoma C. Agajelu.

 

It has been established that the primary motive of colonialism in Africa was
purely for economic gains. To achieve these economic gains, basic infrastructure
needed to be in place. The British colonial authorities in Nigeria were aware of
the essentiality of infrastructural development towards achieving maximum
political, social and economic stronghold in Nigeria area, and their other colonies
which were hotly contested for. The basic institutions needed were an effective
administrative structure, a modern transport system, and a portable currency
and modern banking.
Coercive administrative instrument were needed to extract compliance from the
resisting peoples of the colony but to establish an export and market distributive economy, potent transport infrastructure became a necessity. A.A Lawal states
the need for transportation and other infrastructural development in the colony
when he stated:
Colonial economic policy sought to modernize local
transport, the distributive system, money and banking,
distribution and use of land and labour with the
objective of expanding export production and
distribution of European manufactured goods.
In fact, the need for basic transportation infrastructure in colonial Nigeria cannot
be overtly emphasized. Sir Fredrick Lugard summarized the importance when
he observed that, “the material development of Africa may be summed up in one
word – Transport”.Furthermore, with the anticipation and discovery of various
produce centres in the hinterlands it was clear that the railway system, which
played a magical role in industrial Europe, was needed in the colony.
The railways lay across the colony, from the west to the north, from the north to
the south, from the east to the south. Later from east to north-westwards, forms
the national grid. It is pertinent to briefly examine the pre-colonial economic
infrastructure, to enable us understand better the state of infrastructure in the
pre-colonial Nigeria, before we can now adequately delve into the revolutions in
the railway sector and its economic effects on the Nigerian colonial economy. fragments that made up the country existed politically independent of each
other. Although, this may not be said of the economic aspect. This is because of
the evidence of pre-dominance of economic activities in the pre-colonial intergroup
relations.

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