By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
Commercial activities on the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway project will begin in September this year, from Agege in Lagos to Ibadan, Oyo State.
In preparation for the kick-off, 53 coaches, 30 locomotives, 200 wagons of different standards have been ordered to arrive in batches.
Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Engr. Fidet Okhiria, disclosed the plan on Thursday during the routine inspection of the project.
“When they come we will add more coaches to Abuja-Kaduna. We will reenforce Itape-Warri. The beauty of that is that there are coaches of different standards,” Okhiria said.
According to him, there are different classes of coaches such as business, economy and luxury, which passengers can choose from according to taste or ability to pay.
For example, there are those that have only 24 seats which can be collapsed into beds, rotated to up to 180 degrees; and those to be used as conference rooms coaches.
Okhiria disclosed that action on another phase of the standard gauge railway project has begun from Lagos end towards the Apapa seaport. He said, “Work is going on from Ebute Metta towards the ports. They are relocating the narrow gauge to have more rooms for the standard gauge. That is what is going on right now.”
New bridges will be built to replace the ones marked for demolition before the destruction of the old ones to give way to the project, the NRC managing director pointed out, stressing: “We don’t want to throw Lagosians into chaotic situation,” by first demolishing bridges before building their alternatives.
The standard gauge railway locomotive is designed to run at a speed of 150 kilometres per hour, Okhiria stated.
He described the project as a long time plan which has been realized. “What you are seeing now is not a dream of yesterday. It was a dream of as far back as 1995 when the survey was done. 2006 was contract awarding year,” he noted.
According to him, the money for executing the project is not in Nigeria. “It is a loan that will be repaid when the work is done. Our duty is to supervise. The banks also send their people to evaluate whether it is correct or not before they pay.