By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
The impact of refuse dump site has caused the dismantling of the standard gauge railway from Ijora towards Apapa seaport in Lagos State.
It should be recalled that the rail project was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari on 10th June 2021.
“What we discovered was that after Ijora there was a refuse dump, and we said that if we don’t do it, maybe after six or seven years we may have problem with the tracks, so we have to back the contractor work,” Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Engr. Fidet Okhiria, told New Nigerian on inquiry.
He expressed hope that the reconstruction will be completed before the end of this month, March 2022.
He pointed out that developments after project completion, like the present instance, is why there are “defect liability period and trial period” in project contract.
Okhiria spoke on measures being taken to tackle the problem of railway track vandalism, stressing that at the present time the management of the corporation is sensitizing communities on their responsibility in protecting such public property.
According to him, the military provided vehicles to assist the communities, so that actions are taken.
“We know the vehicle cannot go on the track. There is arrangement to provide motorbike to patrol the tracks.
“However, it’s not affecting patronage. It’s still quite safe. What we do is to educate our train operators that they should not stop.
“We are also looking forward to see how we can design clips that make it difficult for people to to unscrew to remove the rail. We’re liaisoning with authorities to support and provide necessary coverage,” the NRC managing director explained.
He said that the Airforce is patrolling from Abuja to Kaduna area of the railway with helicopter, and that the corporation is making plans to apply satellite technology for monitoring – including using sensors to make sure the railway is safe.
“What we do now is patrol with a rail bus, that is why we are able to detect if there is a rail or clip disconnection that can lead to accident,” Okhiria clarified.
On train engine fire that occurred recently, he pointed out that it did not happen because of lack of maintenance, and emphasized that it happened because there was a bush fire.
“We asked the train operator never to stop running because we don’t know whether it was a set-up, and that was the last coach on that train,” the railway chief expantiated.
He narrated how wind caught up with the rubber between the coaches that caught fire, noting that every coach has four fire extinguishers.
According to him, behind the coach that caught fire was an open wagon with generator powering the train.
“What happened”, Okhiria declared, “when they detected the fire the passengers moved to the next coach. It was bush burning, and wind carried the fire.”