By Daniels Nwokike and Gift Samuel
Kaduna-By increasing the rolling stock to two new standard gauge locomotives and 10 new standard gauge executive passenger coaches, the Nigerian railway system has come to be the first choice of commuters and businesses between the two cities of Abuja and Kaduna with a daily traffic volume of approximately 1,280 passengers on the two return trips from Monday to Saturday.
Speaking at the commissioning of additional Locomotives and Coaches at the Rigasa train station in Kaduna on Thursday, Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Chibuike Amaechi said that he was elated with what has happened as he appreciated the president for believing in him and expressed hopes that he doesn’t disappoint him and Nigerians.
According to Amaechi, “This gives me another lease of life after all the work done in Rivers state, one young man just wakes up one day to say you didn’t do anything.
“This gives another opportunity to show that you are dedicated to your duty and compelled by the fact that the president and Nigerians trusts you to deliver on the mandate that the people has given to the president who in turn transfers it to you as the minister of transportation”, the minister said.
On the issue of ticket racketeering, the minister said that it only existed because there were not enough coaches and seats and the demand for rail transport far outweighed the supply but now there are more locomotives, coaches and seats, and the issue of ticket racketeering will become history.
“We have four new locomotives. One contains four coaches that runs from Kaduna to Abuja non-stop and three that stop at every station. So in total, we have 14 locomotives now, so the supply will definitely meet up with the demand”, he declared.
For the price of the fare, the minister said that it was Nigerians that demanded that the fare be increased so it was reviewed upwards from 800 naira to one thousand, two hundred naira (N1,200) only. He explained that this will accommodate for other amenities that has been included in the coaches like a wifi amongst others.
Amaechi added that seven more brand new, fully air conditioned passenger coaches has been ordered and are due to arrive to be deployed to Warri-Itakpe standard gauge rail line which will be completed by September 2018.
He disclosed other critical projects being pursued by the Federal Government to include the Lagos to Ibadan segment of the Lagos to Kano standard gauge double track, expected to be completed in December 2018; Kano to Katsina rail line with branches in Gibia and Maradi in Niger Republic soon to be flagged off amongst others.
The Minister said that the country need up to 40 billion dollars to execute all the projects it had in hand which includes the seaports in Warri and Bonny; Abuja to Itakpe passage rail line going through Baru and so many other projects. “It is only God that knows where we will get the money from”, he stated.