Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nigeria: Igwemezie - Railway Engineer Par Excellence

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He is one of the exemplary ambassadors of the rebranding Nigeria campaign in diaspora, the Daily Champion in Nigeria reports. A man who has made immense contribution to the development of modern railways in the world, he is one of the exemplary ambassadors of the rebranding Nigeria campaign in diaspora.

A seasoned professional, consistent achiever and industry role model, Dr. Jude Igwemezie is the chairman of TransGlobin (Globin) International, Founder and President of Applied Rail Research Technologies (ARRT Inc).

He has built a solid reputation as a distinguished and thoroughbred railway engineer committed to uplifting the standards of railway transportation around the world. An expert in structural mechanics, stress and failure analysis, Dr. Igwemezie is passionately committed to making his own contributions to efforts at developing Nigeria's economy.

Having lost his father in a road accident, this icon of the railway industry believes that an efficient rail system will take pressure off the roads and rid them of the unnecessary delays and loss of lives associated with road travel.

He kept offering to build a standard gauge railway system from Lagos to Calabar, knowing that Nigeria is a place where railway services is going to be profitable and successful because of its size and population and because the nation's demography is similar to that of Europe. But like that proverbial prophet who is not known in his native land, his effort was frustrated in Nigeria, hence he took his services elsewhere.

Igwemezie won a $500-million contract to build a monorail network in faraway Iraq. It took only two months for him to secure a Memorandum of Understanding with the Iraqi government while the expert has been in negotiation with Nigerian officials in the last 18 months to contract several rail lines in the country. Igwemezie who once described the Benin-Ore road as "a killing field," believes that with the construction of the East-West rail corridor, people who live in Benin can work in Lagos, since it will only take two hours on an express line to get to Lagos from Benin.

Dr. Igwemezie's professional qualifications and laurels are numerous. Born in Nigeria, he obtained his B. Eng. Degree in Civil engineering, M. Eng and Ph. D. degrees in engineering from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He is a registered professional engineer in the province of Ontario and has been involved with rail related engineering and research, since1981.

Always in quest of knowledge, Igwemezie has carried out tens of million dollars of engineering contracts including all major Class 1 North America railroads, and currently the $500 million contract to build a viable rail transportation network that would connect Iraqi's three Islamic holy and historic mosques in Imam Ali, Kufa and Sahle.

Since 1988, Dr. Igwemezie has also authored or co-authored 120 articles, reports and publications on rail tract and vehicle system. He has made significant contributions to the rail industry being the first to develop a methodology for setting railhead wear limits, which is being successfully implemented in several North America countries.

In 1992, he developed and published mathematical relationships between dynamic loads defect size and rail fracture during cold weather train operations. He investigated wheel failures in Hi-rail-vehicles and developed the residual stress standard incorporated into the AREMA (American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association) manual.

Dr. Igwemezie has investigated wheel-shelling problems for railroads and suppliers and analyzed wood, concrete and steel tie failure. He has designed derailment containment barriers for residential areas, high-relief joint-bar that allows more rail wear for several North American new tie plates and clips that fight gauge widening and prevent rail rollover, as well as new joint plates that allow positive tie-down of the joint. In 2004, he designed a revolutionary insulated rail joint that has a section modulus that is three times greater than that of current systems and also greater than that of the rail section.

Dr. Igwemezie has been actively involved in the development of track superelevation policies for railroads. Recently, he pioneered development of the software (ASET) for setting track superelevation, locomotive power utilization and fuel optimization in trains. He also holds or has pending patents for several innovative railway track components.

This icon of rail transportation also has significant experience on the impact of rail grinding and lubrication on rail life, track forces, rail stresses, tie stresses and track alignment. In 1997, he was invited to address AREMA on rail management during their annual conference in Chicago.

In 1999, he led the team that reorganized the management structure of the Nigerian Railway Corporation.

In 1997, the UniP Railroad Steel tie and fastener systems designed by Dr. Igwemezie won the Gold Medal in the Industrial Systems Category of the Canadian Design Engineering Awards. In 2001, he received the "Harry Jerome Award" for Professional Excellence from the Black Business & Professional Association of Canada. In 2008, he received an Outstanding Business Achievement Award from the Business Development Bank of Canada. In 2009, Igwemezie received an Award from the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization (NIDO) Canada for outstanding contributions to the diaspora community and industrialization in Nigeria. In 2009, he also received Resolution of Appreciation from the International Heavy Haul Association (IHHA) for his contribution to the latest book on Best Practices for Heavy Haul Railway Operation.

Dr. Igwemezie is also an industry expert on derailments and track component failures including providing expert reports and witness testimony in court litigations. He is the current Chairman of Sub -Committee -2 (Rail Rolling Specifications) of Committee -4 of AREMA.

Railway transport in Nigeria is inefficient and has hardly developed at all over the past 100 years compared to railways in the developed world. This is due both to maladministration by successive governments and to the lack of a functional transport policy ensuring a constant pattern of railway development.

Railway construction was started by the British colonial government in Nigeria in 1898 from Lagos in the Southern Protectorate. Railways were seen by the administration as a better way of consolidating power in the newly acquired territory. Also, railways were developed to gain access to the rich agricultural and mineral resources in the hinterland. There seems to be a general consensus that Nigeria's indigenous engineers largely lack expertise required for the development of an efficient railway system.

But Igwemezie's outstanding achievements have however debunked this perception. He has indeed proved that Nigerian engineers can compete effectively with their foreign counterparts given the necessary enablement.

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