NRC MD Unfolds Prospect Of Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway Commercial Operations

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From left: Section Station Manager, Team Nigeria Ltd, Mr. Alvaro Figueinedo; Project Manager, Team Nigeria Limited, Mr. Leonardo Portanova; Project Manager, Stations, China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), Mr. Li Depeng; Minister for Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi; Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation, Engr. Fidet Okhiria; and the Engineering Department Manager, CCECC, Mr. Ludo Chuchangyun; during the inspection tour of Ibadan Train Stations. Photo: AKINOLA ARIYO

By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos

The management of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has assured Nigerians of satisfactory improvements in Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway commercial services.
It has to be noted that Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway commercial operations started on 7th December 2020 with one passenger from Ibadan to Lagos.
Managing Director of NRC, Engr. Freeborn Edetanlen Okhiria, promised during an interview at the December 2020 monthly inspection of the project that after completion there will be trains travelling on designated terminals on the route.
Okhiria said that instead of the present two and half hours to and fro each end of the destinations, the journey time will reduce to one and half hours from one end to the other.
“We run the morning and evening trips because construction is not finally completed,” he explained. “After completion we’ve to be looking at one hour thirty minutes, because we’re going to have different trains. There’s one that will leave Lagos to the last terminal. There’s one that will stop at three or four terminals – Lagos to Abeokuta to Ibadan. And there is one that will stop at every station, and each of those train stations have their different prices. We have 34 coaches and we have the DMOs that have eight coaches on them.”
The NRC chief disclosed that as part of the modernization of railway system in Nigeria, e-ticketing has begun on Abuja-Kaduna axis.
“We’re doing it step by step,” he clarified concerning electronic ticketing system.
Okhiria pledged to ensure that the money realized from the train operations will go to the right treasury, because according to him, “if it goes to the wrong place you people will also write that some people have connived to steal government’s money.”
He said that the e-ticketing will be protected from hackers.
On the criticism that the present N3,000.00 train fare per trip from Lagos to Ibadan and vice versa is high, he adduced the reason that the train has to be maintained and sustained for it to remain running on the tracks.
He pointed out that the services offer multiple values, such as comfortable coaches which are not obtainable in road transport system.
He cited an example of the various advantages of the modernized train service such as: “You can time yourself that I’m leaving Lagos at 4 o’clock and you’ll know you’ll get Ibadan at 6.30. There’s no checkpoint, no traffic delay.”
On the ongoing Ebute Metta, Lagos to Apapa seaport railway modernization project, Okhiria emphasized that the relocation of gas pipelines has to be completed  so that the contractor has to continue work.
Challenges faced at APM Terminal on the Apapa seaport corridor include the Customs building and the relocation of obsolete scanners, the NRC leader stated.
He related that both narrow and standard gauge railway will be linked to the seaport.
Okhiria said: “You can see they have relocated the narrow gauge to the port, but within the port they’re almost going to be parallel to each other. So, the narrow and the standard gauge will get into the port. We’re going to increase station frequency.”
He pointed out that the contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC),has been told to ensure that they deliver Ebute Metta to Apapa seaport project before the end of January 2021, stressing: “We’re working to do the commissioning.”

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