The Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, has flagged off the intercity passenger train services and haulage of petroleum services from Lagos to Kano
In his address at the event, which took place at the headquarters of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Ebute Metta, Lagos, Umar reiterated the commitment of the President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to the transformation of the transport sector to which the Railways form an integral part.
He stated that the event was part of the implementation of 25 Years Strategic Vision for the Nigerian Railways, commencing with the rehabilitation of the existing western narrow gauge line (Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan-Oshogbo-Ilorin-Jebba-Minna-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano).
The total stretch of the rail line rehabilitated (1126Km) was executed by Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited and Messrs Costain West Africa from Km 0 to Km 488 and Km 488 to Km 1126 respectively.
Umar used the opportunity to highlight other ongoing projects in the railway sector to include:
I. Rehabilitation of the Eastern Railway Line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, with spur lines from Kuru to Kafanchan and Kaduna and Kuru to Jos;
II. Rehabilitation of Zaria-Gusau-Kaura Namoda Rail Line.
The minister equally mentioned other modernization projects including: Railway Modernization Project Phase 1, Addendum 1, from Abuja (Idu) – Kaduna Standard Gauge Rail Line (187 km); and the Rehabilitation of the existing 254 km and Completion of the remaining 22Km Standard Gauge Rail Line of the Central Rail Line from Ajaokuta – Warri with station buildings (276 km).
He also stated that the Federal Government had awarded the contract to conduct feasibility studies in new green field areas to further open up the railway routes.
I. Feasibility Studies for the New Standard Gauge Rail Line: Lagos – Shagamu – Ijebu-Ode – Ore – Benin City (300 km);
II. Feasibility Studies for the New Standard Gauge Rail Line: Benin – Agbor – Onitsha – nnewi – Owerri – Aba with additional line from Onitsha – Enugu – Abakaliki (500 km);
III. Feasibility Studies for the New Standard Gauge Rail Line: Lagos – Ibadan – Oshogbo – Baro – Abuja; High Speed (615 Km)
IV. Feasibility Studies for the New Standard Gauge Rail Line: Ajaokuta (Eganyi) – Obajana – Jakura – Baro – Abuja with additional line from Ajaokuta – Otukpo (533 km);
V. Feasibility Studies for the New Standard Gauge Rail Line: Zaria – Kaura Namoda – Sokoto – Illela – Birnin Koni (520 km).
VI. Feasibility Studies for Coastal Railway Line: Benin – Sapele – Warri – Yenegoa – Port Harcourt – Aba – Uyo – Calabar – Akampa – Ikom – Obudu Cattle Ranch (673 Km)
VII. Feasibility Studies for the New Standard Gauge Rail Line: Ajaokuta – Eganyi – Lokoja – Abaji – Abuja (280 Km)
According to Umar, when all the feasibility studies are completed, the results will be made available for development through the Public Private Partnership.
In his address, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Engineer Adeseyi Sijuwade, noted that the opening of the Lagos to Kano Rail route will bring a lot of socio economic development to the nation.
Sijuwade added that to flag off the project, the corporation was moving 450 litres of Automotive Gas Oil from Lagos to Offa.
He added that the Lagos to Kano services would complement the existing Lagos to Ilorin, and Minna to Kano intercity trains.
Sijuwade listed the challenges facing the corporation to include insufficient locomotives and rolling stock, inadequate skilled and well trained manpower, as well as financial constraints as the organisation could not be self sufficient at this time.
Present at the occasion were the representatives of the Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Dayo Mobereola; the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Engineer Nebolisa Emodi; the Lagos State Commissioner for Transport, Kayode Opeifa; the representative of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Dr. Issa Aremu; Chike Okogu of SURE-P, as well as other stakeholders in the transport sector.