• Saturday, May 18, 2024
businessday logo


NRC says PortHarcourt – Aba route will be lucrative 

Nigerian Railway Corporation-NRC
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has observed that the rehabilitated Port Harcourt-Aba rail route will be lucrative, as it has concluded plans to resume full commercial operations on Tuesday, May 7, 2024.
Onyedikachi Onovo, district public relations officer, Eastern District of the NRC, in a telephone interview with BusinessDay, on Wednesday, said that NRC expects better patronage from the route, stressing that with refurbished coaches and new tracks that the Cooperation expects nothing less than a rise in patronage.
According to him, Aba by nature is a commercial centre. If you come to the South-East, you talk about Aba, Onitsha and Nnewi. These are the business areas in the zone and we are hopeful that the Aba -PortHarcourt route will be lucrative.
“Before our operations on the route stopped sometime in 2022, people used to climb on the roof of the locomotive engine. And this was when the coaches and the tracks were not good. Now that we have good tracks and coaches, the train speed will increase, efficiency will increase and then patronage will naturally increase and that is our expectation.
He explained that the corporation is currently offering a four-day free train ride to passengers on the route, before the resumption of full commercial operations, on Tuesday, May 7, 2024.
“On Tuesday, next week, our full commercial operations will resume. If you want to board our train, you will buy our toes for ₦1,500 for “First class coach, while the other coaches will go for N800.”

Decries activities of vandals on rehabilitated track

The first class coaches of the refurbished NRC train are well furnished and have airconditioners for passengers, while the other coaches are equally furnished with fans fixed on the top to help the passengers get cool air while onboard the train.
Onovo,  however, decried the activities of vandals on the reconstructed Aba-Port Harcourt section of the Eastern Rail line and called on well-meaning individuals and community in Abia State, to collaborate with it to safeguard the new track.
He lamented that vandals within the Obuzor and Ogwe communities in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State, as well as in the Aba axis, are currently vandalising the reconstructed tracks.
He explained that it is disturbing that families and communities will sit idly and watch unscrupulous individuals pack the ballast (the crushed rocks/stones laid on the trackbed to provide stability, drainage and support to the train track), stuff them in cement bags within their various communities and later move them for sell.
Onovo, however, commended Ogwe Community, for answering the call of NRC for collaboration, stressing that the community recently organised themselves and arrested three young men vandalizing the track, noting that the suspects are currently in custody.
He charged other communities to emulate the Ogwe community and help protect the facility, which was built to enhance the movement of goods and people and to improve both the economy of government and individuals.
“We have a challenge in our hands and that challenge is the challenge of vandalism. Unfortunately, even this new track is being vandalized by our people. The latest was in Ogwe Community in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State where the community organized themselves and arrested three young men vandalizing the track. We must commend the Ogwe Community for such a committed effort.
“Yesterday we also discovered that the ballast used to hold the tracks and being packed in cement bags in the bushes around Obuzor and Ogwe in Ukwa West and the Aba area. We need to let our people know that this project belongs to us.
“These people packed the older ballast laid before that should form the base for these new ones and they’re now packing the new ones and placing them in our communities. They’ll bring vehicles and their families, their communities and people will be watching while public facilities and being vandalized by these people. This is not good for us.
“We’re crying that we don’t have a standard gauge, you hear people complain steadily but now the one we have that should have our commercial activities and make things easier for us, why should anybody go ahead to vandalize it?
“This is heartbreaking. We’ve been talking to communities, but we need serious support from all stakeholders in this region, from community leaders to youths and all of us, to protect our own facilities. Why should the common man destroy what is meant to serve him,” he queried.