Railway Modernisation: NNPC Writes NRC, As Okhiria Hints On President’s Train Voyage

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By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos

Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has written a letter to Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) giving it permission to relocate its gas pipe lines that fell on railway right of way.
The letter became imperative as NRC is set to begin the construction of standard gauge railway line from Lagos mainland to Apapa seaport area.
Engr. Fidet Okhiria, the Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation, confirmed the receipt of the letter during an interview in Ibadan, Oyo State.
“We have just received that letter,” said Okhiria. “By July work will start in NNPC to the Lagos end.”
He said that his organisation has found solution to the challenges to be faced in the Lagos mainland to Apapa seaport rail work.
According to the NRC leader, solutions have been found to obstacles at Ikeja,  Flour Mill in Apapa and obstructions at Oshodi where a generator has been removed.
He declared: “I think almost all the topography is done. At the Tejuosho end, we have a place where they will move all their facilities like the powerhouse and sewage.  Alternative land has been found to relocate those things.  What is remaining is to cost and pay the compensation.”
Elaborating on payment of compensation, the NRC chief stated that allthough government owns the land, people own the property. “This present government doesn’t want to hurt anybody; it ensures they are paid,” he stressed.
Okhiria was delighted with the progress made on the standard gauge railway project so far.
He expressed his satisfaction thus: “Major progress has been made. I hope you people (journalists) are happy? If for nothing else, I’m happy because my family is in Ibadan. I can go from Ibadan to work in Lagos.
“Today (Thursday), we rode from Lagos to Ibadan which is a  big mile stone.  We don’t want to come here (Ibadan) again by road. We’ll be coming by rail.”
The NRC managing director disclosed that his organisation is prepared to give Nigerians satisfactory railway operation.
“We have ordered rolling stock. Yesterday (Wednesday), we moved two rolling stocks to Papalanto,” he explained.  “By September more locos will come.”
Okhiria dropped a hint on the probability of President Muhammadu Buhari’s maiden journey on the standard gauge railway train which the ex-minister of transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, promised but never actualized.
According to the NRC managing director, “The president will come when the main stations are ready.  Maybe, by end of the year. The main stations will be ready by September or thereabout. The materials required to finish them have been shipped.”

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