By MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
Seven new coaches imported to provide modern railway service to the southern part of Nigeria have arrived at Apapa ports.
The train service which will serve Warri-Ibadan-Akure route is expected to begin operations between June and August 2018.
Engr. Fidet Okhiria, the Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), disclosed the information at the 2018 New Year Prayer and First Quarter Town Hall Meeting of NRC Headquarters and Lagos District staff held in Lagos on Friday.
“Our brothers in the south will have experience of modern train,” Okhiria said while expressing joy over the development.
He pointed out that while railway modernization from narrow gauge to standard gauge is going on the corporation will continue to maintain the old railway system, so that the history of the Nigerian railway will not be lost in reality.
The managing director stated that there is nothing like level crossing any more whether the road will pass over or the rail will pass over.
He briefed the entire workforce on the on-going Lagos-Ibadan railway project, stressing that though they cannot see it in Lagos for now, the project is making satisfactory progress.
On the NRC’s plan to continue to improve the technical competence of staff, Okhiria told the workers that NRC management is collaborating with experts in London and has also set up a committee on human resources development to boost the technical skill of railway employees.
The NRC leader told members of staff that in order for them to get the best from the corporation they should rededicate themselves and give right services to the organization.
“My brothers and sisters,” Okhiria beckoned, “I appeal to you to rededicate yourselves to work so that your children will get a place to work. Serve with dedication for the benefit of your children who may become employees of the corporation in future. Reflect and correct areas you have not done well.”
He also urged them to render honest service for society to benefit from, noting that by working well for NRC they are building a means for their livelihood.
He warned those who are disloyal and those who cheat on the organization that they may deceive human beings but God is seeing them.
Giving the employees the assurances of his sincerity and cordial relationship with them, the managing director declared: “I will not deprive you of your rightful benefits.”
The meeting provided opportunity for an interactive session, allowing employees to express their minds freely
On the complaints raised by workers that they are still collecting lowest salaries among federal parastatals, that they are not issued tax certificate, among others, the NRC boss described their complaints as valid points, and gave them satisfactory explanations.
For example, he clarified the misconception the workers have that Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and NIMASA workers, among others, earn higher than them.
“Management follows the budget and will not involve on misplaced priorities. I do not believe you are earning anything less than civil servants anywhere” in the country, Okhiria explained.
The NRC boss urged workers to be vigilant and protect the interest and property of the corporation. “Be vigilant; a lot of people had been disciplined recently due to the vigilance of staff. We try to avoid leakages,” he said.
In turn, the workers who spoke on behalf of their colleagues on the occasion expressed satisfaction with Okhitia’s genuine brotherly affection towards the entire workforce. They also appreciated the favour which federal government has shown on Nigeria Railway Corporation and its employees.
The workers described the tenure of Engr Fidet Okhiria as a rare opportunity of having a managing director whose administration has a human face.