by Christian Iyeumame Agadaga



According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the third and fourth needs—LOVE AND BELONGING, SAFETY AND SECURITY—illustrate that increased trips into urban cities in most countries can foster socialization, connect people from different races and classes, and enhance their overall safety.

Cited. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 1943, a book titled “A Theory of Human Motivation”

The demand for a more decent, fast, affordable, and convenient mode of transportation has brought industry experts, government policymakers, and concerned members of the public together to brainstorm better solutions. One promising solution is the emergence of the Rail Bus or, more accurately, the Elevated Rail Bus (ERB). But what is a Rail Bus? From the coinage of the words ‘Rail’ and ‘Bus,’ a Rail Bus implies a mix of transport technology wherein a simple, less fanciful public bus is designed and constructed to move on a well-laid-out rail line system. It uses hybrid energy of electric and compressed natural gas (CNG) technology as its propellant, carrying large numbers of people. The hybrid energy facility aims to achieve two main goals of metropolitan public transportation: net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and improved air quality.

Rail buses are becoming a trend that any fast-growing city should emulate, and Port Harcourt city in Rivers State, Nigeria, should be no exception. Port Harcourt prides itself as a hub and headquarters of the oil and gas business in Nigeria, with multinational oil and gas companies receiving expatriates from all over the globe into the city at regular intervals. Many come with their families and, for the sake of exploring the city’s tourism potential, shopping, and other corporate engagements, need to move from one part of the city to another. Coupled with the movements of the locals, this can lead to traffic gridlocks and high carbon emissions from cars’ exhaust pipes, contributing to global warming. When the road is jam-packed with cars and people, meeting daily schedules becomes difficult. All these concerns could be mitigated if about 70% of those on the road were confined into one safe, convenient, fast, and economically friendly technology called the rail bus.

Three other factors contributing to the high influx of people, mostly adults, into Port Harcourt city are the establishment and upgrading of tertiary institutions, an increase in religious centers, and an increase in the programs of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).


Upgrade of Tertiary Institutions

Years ago, the state government, under the watch of former Governor Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, saw the need to send an executive bill to the Rivers State House of Assembly for the upgrade of the then College of Education, Port Harcourt, to university status. The bill was debated by members of the House and successfully passed into law. Thereafter, the institution assumed full-fledged university status and was renamed Ignatius Ajuru University. This action has since opened up the city further, as more adults have enrolled in various degree-awarding academic programs. Students and lecturers of this institution commute to and from school on weekdays in large numbers, either using private cars, taxis, or fossil-fuel buses. These movements often cause traffic gridlocks and excessive carbon dioxide emissions, which are not safe for humans. A rail bus would make movement safer, cheaper, and more decent for them.

Similarly, the immediate past administration of Governor Mr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike saw the wisdom in annexing the Rivers State University into three distant campuses within communities in Etche, Emohua, and Ahoada East local government areas. Ever since this adjustment, there has been an increase in the population commuting to and from the Port Harcourt metropolis to these localities. It is also worth noting that the same government upgraded the School of Arts and Basic Studies in Rumuola, Port Harcourt, to polytechnic status to accommodate more students through newly accredited programs. Here again, a rail bus could be the transport solution to and from the school.


Increase in Religious Centers

It is no doubt that Nigerians are religious, and those living in Port Harcourt are no exception. Almost all mega Christian denominations have either a branch or headquarters of their worship centers in the city because the indigenes are friendly, peaceful, and to a large extent politically and religiously tolerant, not forgetting also the Muslim (Islamic) community. On Fridays and Sundays, worshipers troop out in large numbers to give reverence to God. But the big question, as it concerns this discussion, is through what means of transportation do they convey themselves from their homes to worship centers? Over 95%, aside from those in the riverine areas, commute via road, making the city jam-packed, and noisy, and exposing commuters to a high risk of road accidents, some of which can cause injuries or fatalities. However, if the city is properly planned and the railbus is adopted as a major source of public transportation, these risk factors would be either eliminated or grossly reduced.


Increase in the Programs of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)

President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government founded the NDDC in 2000 after years of agitations arising from the impoverishment of the people in that region. The core mandate of the commission, as gazetted by the federal government of Nigeria, includes facilitating the rapid, even, and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative, and politically peaceful.

Since its inception, the commission has put in efforts to fulfill its purpose. In 2024, over N300 billion ($210 million) was approved in the budget to execute projects and programs for the commission. The number of people employed and consulted to ensure these projects and programs are duly implemented by the management board will inevitably mix with the locals to get their jobs done. But through what means of transportation are they expected to move in executing their jobs? While contemporary modes of transportation may be available, are they efficient, cost-friendly, and safe? Additionally, the removal of the petrol subsidy by the current government of President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, which has further increased the price of transportation per head for Nigerians, indicates that a rail bus is right on time to reduce such costs for Nigerians in terms of public transportation.

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