Many elderly people were excited last week when the Nigerian Railway Corporation organised a special train ride for senior citizens to keep them fit and improve their lives.
They had the exciting fanfare in the business class of the just inaugurated standard gauge Lagos-Ibadan train and it was mainly attended by retired senior staff of the NRC on Thursday
Managing Director of the NRC, Fidet Okhiria, said this during a two-day bi-monthly management and senior staff meeting held at the corporation’s corporate headquarters, Ebute-Metta, Lagos.
He said the train tour was held in conjunction with the Nigeria Senior Citizen Centre (NSCC).
Okhiria spoke on the need for senior and management staff to network for the progress of the system, stressing that the Federal Government’s efforts towards transforming the entire railway system, through the modernisation project, must be sustained by the workers.
The NRC boss urged workers to be more proactive in the discharge of their official responsibilities.
He advised them to brace for the challenges of the modern rail transport industry.
One of the guests at the special train ride, pioneer Managing Director of the NRC, Nathaniel Okoro, said it was heartwarming to witness the transformation of the Nigerian railway and commended the Federal Government for the progress made in the standard gauge rail.
He said, “I am happy to see the success of the standard gauge railway project because I was invited by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2002 to draw a 25-year master plan for the development of standard gauge railway line in Nigeria.
“The report was submitted to Obasanjo in 2002 and after he left government, the report gathered dust. But we thank God that President Buhari-led administration resuscitated and implemented the project.”
Okoro, who just turned 90, advised his fellow senior citizens on need “to celebrate ourselves because we have made our contributions to the development of this country. I retired on a salary of N3,500 per month and that was the highest salary then.”
He also said, “I urge Nigerians to learn and understand the history of Nigeria to enable them to appreciate the development that has taken place from the past so they can relate it to the present.
“I am persuaded that life is a wave, emotions build up eventually, reach a peak; and drift away. Worries, anxiety and fear come and go in a similar way. They don’t last forever even if they feel like they will,”
Director-General of the NSCC, Dr Emem Omokaro, while addressing the elderly citizens, said the centre was established to promote a fundamental positive change in perception, attitude and paradigm about aging and old age.
According to her, the centre promotes economic development opportunities in investing in enhanced capacities of senior citizens for the benefit of all and a cohesive community.
“The centre was set up principally to identify the needs of senior citizens and to cater for them in varied domains such as health and well-being, income, security, training and education, capacity enhancement, counselling and sports,” she said.
Omokaro said the centre would work diligently to ensure that a day is set aside in Nigeria to celebrate senior citizens.
Lagos blue rail project gets CBN N60bn support (with photos)
- Train to run every three minutes at peak period – LAMATA
The Central Bank of Nigeria says it has offered N60bn support through three commercial banks for a railway project being executed by the Lagos State Government.
The funds are being released specifically for the Lagos Blue (rail) Line, running between Marina and Okokomaiko, which is one of the seven mass transit rail projects being developed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).
Director of Development and Finance at the CBN, Mr Phillip Yusuf, disclosed this on Thursday during an inspection of the project at Marina, Lagos.
Already, he said N45bn had been disbursed, adding that the last tranche of the funds would be released soon.
According to him, this is one of the projects the apex bank and some deposit money banks are supporting under its N1 trillion DCR Intervention, which is part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic to businesses and projects affecting the people.
He named the banks involved as Access Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc.
“The total amount that we have made available for this line is N60 billion. We have disbursed N45 billion; there is another tranche of N15 billion due.
“So, we can see the progress made with the disbursement that had been made so far. This is just one of the many projects under its DCR Intervention.”
Yusuf expressed satisfaction with work done and the solid structure being put in place by the contractor.
He said, “I am quite impressed with what I see on the ground. LAMATA had taken us around and we can see the solid structure that is being put in place in Marina.
“The quality of work is quite impressive and they have shown us all the work done so far. Luckily, I am an engineer; I can appreciate the amount of work being done.
“Most importantly, I see young Nigerians welding, fabricating and there are over 500 jobs on site. For me, that is a very good take away.”
The Managing Director, LAMATA, Mrs Abimbola Akinajo, said, “The vision of the state is to ensure that this project will be operational in the first quarter of 2022, as we are on track.
“One of the major things in every project is funding, and with the support we have from the CBN and three other banks – Sterling, Fidelity and Access, we will ensure we meet our goal and target.”
She said that LAMATA was at present constructing the first operational phase of the Blue Line, adding that five stations at Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu, National Theatre and the Marina would be constructed within the axis.
She said that the Marina station would actually serve as the hub in Lagos State because both the Blue and Red lines would terminate at the place and the Green Line which would come from Lekki would also terminate at the Marina station.
Akinajo said that the Marina station would serve as an interchange because every form of transportation would be catered for there.
She called for the stakeholders’ collaboration on the project to enable the state government to achieve its aim, stressing that three sets of coaches would commence on the line in 2022.
She said that each of the coaches would carry not less than 1,000 passengers, adding that the signalling system in place would allow the movement of train every three minutes during peak hours.
The line is expected to run on the surface in the central reservation of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway between Igbo-Elerin Road (Okokomaiko) and Iganmu. It will then be elevated from Iganmu along the south side of the expressway passing the junction with Eric Moore Road, crossing just south of the National Theatre to Iddo, then south to Lagos Island with a terminal at Marina.
Concession of railway services coming soon – NRC MD
Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, has hinted about plans for the concession of train operations in the country as a way to speed up and sustain ongoing development of rail transport system.
He stated this just as he said the corporation would continue to run the system in ways that would make the repayment of loans taken easy.
Okhiria spoke on Wednesday when he appeared at a town hall meeting organised by Raypower FM under the theme: “Interrogating the Essence of Chinese loans in Nigeria”.
Recently, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the Federal Government had taken $2.5bn loan to complete the new 156km Lagos-Ibadan railway built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.
Okhiria said at the Raypower forum that the corporation was considering concession and efficiently moving rail at an affordable price to quickly turn out the repayment.
“We are not ruling out even concession of the railways,” he said.
The NRC MD however did not give details on when and how the concession would be achieved.
A concession agreement, according to Investopedia, is a contract that gives a company the right to operate a specific business within a government’s jurisdiction or on another firm’s property, subject to particular terms. “Concession agreements often involve contracts between the nongovernmental owner of a facility and a concession owner, or concessionaire. The agreement grants the concessionaire exclusive rights to operate their business in the facility for a stated time and under specified conditions,” the authority adds.
A project consultant and partner at ALG, Joan Miquel Vilardell, contributing to an AfDB Transport Forum discussion, had said that the private sector participation had been positive in several railways worldwide, usually under concession.
But he noted that the initial concession model used in Africa and Latin America had not led to enough investment, especially in infrastructure.
N567m required to hire 1,000 workers for Lagos-Ibadan rail operations – NRC MD
The Lagos-Ibadan rail line will employ 1,000 additional workers at a cost of N567.45m per annum, Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Mr Fidet Okhiria, has said.
He disclosed this in Lagos when members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Transportation visited the Ebute Meta headquarters of the NRC.
He said the current personnel strength of the corporation was 10,672 with current personnel cost of N9.14bn for 2021.
Okhiria added, “On corporation’s revenue generation since 2020, NRC has remitted N1.13bn to the Federal Government approved dedication TSA Account domiciled with the CBN.”
During the visit, it was found that the signal and communication system of the new rail line was not operational yet.
The Project Liaison Officer of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, Mr Yakubu Adogie, said the company was already working to surmount the challenge before the first quarter of 2022.
In a statement by the NRC, the CCECC liaison officer also said the company was working on the plumbing, power supply, and telecommunications of other stations within the new Lagos-Ibadan railway corridor.
Adogie added that despite the intervention of the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, in July and payment of compensation, the Nigeria Customs Service log room building had not been demolished to give way for the construction of the other two lines to connect Apapa port.
The Project Manager of TEAM Construction Company Nig. Ltd, Leonardo Portanova, also spoke on the overhead bridges and crossings in the Lagos end of the rail line.
According to him, the Lagos State Government is constructing seven overhead bridges while TEAM would build six overhead crossings.
The Chairman, House Committee on Transportation, Abdulfatai Buhari, also said the House was ready to support the NRC with necessary legislative framework to ensure effective rail transport and boost inter-regional business in the country.
He said, “You are all aware that the joint committee is carrying out its statutory constitutional responsibilities to ascertain the level of work done.
“We are here to oversee how funds appropriated in the past fiscal years were expended and how much is needed for the smooth running of the corporation against the next budgetary allocation.”
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Transportation, Abbas Tajudeen, asked contractors working on the projects to open a good channel of communication with the committee.
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