An abysmal 75 percent shortfall in the number of daily trips on the passenger train services between from the Iddo terminus in Lagos to Agbado, Iju and Kajola is being experienced by the Lagos district of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) as a result of the ongoing standard gauge rail project being executed by the Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC), BusinessDay learnt.
Before the commencement of the 156.5 kilometer Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail modernisation project in 2017, the Lagos district of the Nigeria Railway Corporation does 16 trips on 14 passenger coaches. This number reduced to eight trips in the midst of mounting operational and environmental changes. As at the time of filing this report, the number of passenger trips has further reduced from 8 to four.
While admitting that nothing can be done at this point since the ongoing standard gauge project is for the interest of every Nigeiran and the traveling public, Jerry Oche, Lagos rail district manager expressed optimism that whatever is the shortfall in terms of shortfall in revenue and inadequate carrying capacity will be recovered when the project is fully completed and put to usefor use.
Vice president Yemi Osinbajo had in March 2017 during the ground breaking ceremony for the take-off of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauga railway project said that, it will be completed by December 2018. The Federal Government paid its counterpart funding of N72 billion out of the N458billion for the project take off handled by the CCECC.
During the ceremony inside the NRC yard, Ebute Metta, Lagos, Osibanjo described the project as a very historic one that signified the determination of the President Muhammadu Buhari to modernize the national railway system.
According to him, “The president in his January 2016 visit to China re-opened negotiation on the Chinese support for this project, second this ceremony also mark the commencement of our plan to move speedily to improve link with Lagos which is the national economic nerve centre and major port to other state capital across the country’’.
“Thirdly our ground breaking today reflects the plans of the Federal Government to build a globally competitive economy with first grade infrastructure. The critical roles of infrastructure and for this purpose railway in this strategy are underscored by our economic recovery and growth plan as well as 2016 and 2017 budget,” he said.
The vice president was confident that the national rail project will create up to half a million jobs and facilitate the movement of up to 3.2 million tons of cargo per annum. It will also reduce the burden on national high ways thus reducing deterioration of the road network and increasing the life span of our roads.
Osinbajo noted that railway network will support efforts to diversify the economy and enhance export potentials., adding that just as several of the Nigerian cities have been known as railway towns in the past, it is expected to boost economic activities within the railway lines that will eventually cut across the entire country’.
“To achieve this objective, the Ministry of Transportation has completed feasibility study for up to 13 routes identified for connecting state capital and major commercial centres to the rail network , we should begin to see significant activities in this regards very shortly’’. The vice president declared.