The federal government says it may increase the number of scheduled trips on the Lagos-Ibadan train service to meet surging demand.
Mu’azu Sambo, minister of transportation, spoke to journalists on Thursday after a courtesy visit to the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) headquarters in Lagos, leading to the inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan rail facility.
Satisfied with the progress made so far, Sambo vowed to sustain the “trajectory” of President Muhammadu Buhari’s railway modernisation programme.
However, the minister did not specifically provide details on the possible increase of daily trips.
In August, the NRC reduced the number of trips on the Lagos-Ibadan corridor due to the hike in the price of automotive gas oil, better known as diesel.
The corporation currently runs two trips on the route – one in the morning and another in the afternoon.
“Yeah, we can have more trips, but you cannot have more than 24 hours in a day. Can you? So, you have to schedule these train services to cover a particular period of the day from morning until evening. That’s it,” Sambo said, responding to a question on increased patronage.
“I am highly impressed with the railway modernisation program of this administration. What we have seen is unprecedented. And we have vowed, my colleague and I, that within the short time that we have to spend as ministers, we will build on what we have found so that the trajectory will not be truncated in any way at all.”
Further speaking on resumption of train services on the Abuja-Kaduna corridor, Sambo reiterated the ministry’s stance on resuming operations in November.
Refraining from stating a specific resumption date, he asked Nigerians to wait patiently.
“We have announced previously that we are going to commence operations on that line this month. We have the target date. It is not necessary for me to share that date publicly. I don’t think that would help in running the service. Nigerians are interested in the service, right? Today [is] November 17. Less than two weeks before the month is over. So, just be patient,” the minister said.
In his welcome address, Fidet Okhiria, managing director, NRC, commended the Minister’s commitment towards ensuring completion of all the projects within the time frame, adhering to quality and international best practices.
Okhiria also appreciated Buhari for keeping the railway alive through critical infrastructure development and sustainability of the NRC operation.
He said that railway was one of the cornerstones of economic growth and development of any country, through mass movement of freights and people, thereby creating direct and indirect job opportunities, urbanisation, business expansion and social integration for peaceful coexistence.
“In the recent time, NRC has been facing some challenges which include security and vandalism,” Okhiria said.
“We thank the minister and his team for their effort towards ensuring that the railway corridors are now properly secure for the safety of our esteemed passengers and other stakeholders.
”I also commend the effort of the honourable minister by ensuring all hostages of AKTS infamous train attack were released before the resumption of the train operations on AKTS.
“This shows the compassion and empathy of our minister.”
PROMOTE YOUR | MUSIC| VIDEO | COMEDY SKIT | MIXTAPES HERE ON CONNECTNAIJA CALL/WHATSAPP : +2348122390211