By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
As Commercial Operations on Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway begins December 7, NRC MD Warns that Trespassing on Tracks is Unlawful.
The certainty of starting commercial services on the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway has been confirmed by the Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Engr. Freeborn Edetanlen Okhiria.
Okhiria gave the indication while briefing news reporters on their findings after the November inspection of the project site from Lagos to Ibadan.
He gave details of the preparedeness of NRC to kick off business on the facility by saying that there are 24 coaches, four passenger locomotives, nine freight wagons out of which two have been taken to Itakpe, Warri in Delta State.
The NRC leader disclosed that two shuttle locomotives have arrived the country.
Okhiria said the best way to forestall accidents could be achieved by means of continuous running of trains on the track at every thirty minutes interval and also to have parameter fencing on the railway corridor.
He warned that it is against the law for anyone to trespass on railway tracks.
“We’re to ensure that Nigerians do not encroach on the train because trespassing the tracks under our Act is a felony,” Ohiria cautioned. “I think we have to enforce it to ensure people don’t vandalize the tracks.”
He enumerated the merits of developing the railway system up to coastal rail passage way.
“Development”, the NRC managing director highlighted, “is what we want to achieve with the coastal rail. Commercial activities will spring up when we have the rail tracks. The roads will be safer for people to use. Heavier freight goes by rail; no repairing of roads year in, year out; the roads will last longer.”
He provided background on railway modernization in Nigeria. According to him, coastal rail was approved by President Goodluck Jonathan, but the ongoing project started first in year 2007 before President Olusegun Obasanjo left office.
“Jonathan started Abuja-Kaduna rail project. The present government came and continued, and started Itakpe to Abuja, and continued to Kano,” Okhiria clarified.
He pledged to strengthen the rail system so that when freights arrive at the seaports, those goods have to be delivered to the hinterlands – a system which justified the coastal rail project.