Economic and social activities between Lagos and Ogun States will soon receive a boost following the commencement of free passenger train services from Iju to Abeokuta by the Federal Government. The free train services will last for three months.
Nigeria’s minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi who made this known last Friday in Abeokuta to mark the completion of the Iju in Lagos and Abeokuta, Ogun State axis said the
commencement of the 59 kilometer distance passenger service is the first activation of such services along the Western corridor under Lagos-Ibadan section of the ongoing Nigerian Railway Modernisation Project.
Amaechi, who was accompanied by the governor of Ogun State, Ibukunle Amosun, Adedotun Gbadebo, an Oba and the Alake of Egba land, Gbenga Ashafa, senator representing Lagos East and other members of the National Assembly said:”This is not a commissioning ceremony. We just decided to put the train on the track to convey passengers for three months free of charge.
The minister commended the Ogun state government and the host communities where the standard gauge rail tracks were constructed for their peaceful conduct and hospitality while the project lasted, describing it as the third standard gauge in Nigeria after that of Itakpe-Warri and the Abuja-Kaduna rail corridors.
According to Amaechi, ”The first rail tunnel in Nigeria is in Ogun State. This work is not free of charge, you will have to pay for it and the only way to pay is for you to vote. If you want us to take the project from Ibadan to Kano, then we need your vote. Vote for APC, that is all we are asking for but this train will run from tomorrow (Saturday) free of charge and I will compel them to do about three trips a day so that more persons can go to work in the morning and come back in the evening”.
“We are also trying to build our stations and in a year’s time, we would have finished the stations and everything will be running normally and then you will be paying your money.
He also promised to address some of the issues raised by communities that includes access roads, provision of schools, restriction of movement of community members, lack of overhead bridge and portable water.
Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, a professor expressed contentment over the project, disclosing that his house is very close to the rail track.
Soyinka said he was at the event to see what the government used what used to be the natives’ hunting ground for, stressing that he was however contented with what he saw.
“My house is somewhere in that direction not far from here, and this used to be part of our hunting ground. And so, I came to see for what my hunting ground was appropriated and so far I am so content” said the Nobel Laureate.
Chairman, Senate Committee Land Transport Gbenga Ashafa said the test-run is pre-commissioning of the Lagos-Ibadan Rail project to show Nigerians that the Buhari administration has delivered on its promise of developing the nation’s infrastructure for economic growth.
Also, , Chairman, House Committee on Land Transport, in the Federal House of Representatives Jubril Aminu said people can now travel from Abeokuta to Lagos in just 25 minutes with the commissioning of the project.
According to him, the test running of the train is one of the best thing to happen in South- Western part of the country in recent times, adding that passengers can relax and even take bath while on board.
Represented by Ibrahim Isiaka, Member House of Reps,representing Ifo/Ewekoro Federal Constituency of Ogun State, he said the project was done with the collaboration of the executive and the legislative arm of the government.
Managing Director of Nigerian (NRC)Fidet Okhiria said the rail project is structured to serve high, low and medium income earners.
He noted that what makes the track unique is that apart from being a standard gauge track, trains can run a higher speed on it because the centre of gravity is lower, and that reverse curves were reduced to the barest minimum.
According to the NRC boss, with the wider space of the track train is more stable and can move heavier loads in even higher speed.
MIKE OCHONMA & STELLA ENENCHE, Abuja