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We’re seeking alternative funding for railway modernisation — Amaechi

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The Federal Government is in search of alternative funding mechanism to modernise the rail system, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said.

He said this on Friday during the 2021 Annual Public Lecture titled ‘Nigeria’s National Rail Transport Project’ and organised by Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Science, University of Lagos, Akoka.

He said the Federal Government had recovered most of the failed locations on the narrow gauge corridor and taking precautions using the Environment Impact Assessment report on the standard gauge corridor.

He said all the new railway projects were embedded with rich technology transfer clauses.

The minister said that establishment of rail projects was to reduce cost of transportation and boost the nation’s economy.

He said all the regions in the country would have been connected with rail but for lack of sustainable funding plan, environmental issues, degenerated infrastructure, theft of railway materials and obsolete legal framework.

According to him, the railway project is affected by decline of requisite railway professionals, indiscriminate disposal of refuse on the railway right of way by citizens, among others.

Amaechi appealed to community leaders and civil society organisations to join in the fight against vandalisation of railway infrastructure across the country.

Vice Chancellor of the UNILAG, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, in his welcome address, said efficient transportation would provide access to business and competitiveness in the region.

Ogundipe, represented by Prof. Oluwole Familoni, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), said, “When transport systems are efficient, they provide economic and social opportunities and benefits that result in positive multiplier effects such as better accessibility to market, employment, and additional investment.

“Availability of railway also plays an important role in reducing regional disparities and improving the competitiveness of region, by facilitating, trade movement of labour, and economies of scale.

“In vast country like ours, where the population are not only scattered all over the country but are also separated by desert, forest, valley and mountains efficient, reliable and cheep means of transportation like modern railway network are essential.”

The Dean, Faculty of Social Science, Prof. Olufunmilayo Bammeke, said that the ongoing modernisation of railway system would not only revitalise the mode of transportation but also invariably impact economic development in Nigeria.

“Although skepticism was high as President Buhari opened Nigeria’s first standard gauge railway modernisation project in 2016, now it has become clear that the government is committed not just to the revitalisation of the rail but to maintaining high international standards.

“From Abuja to Kaduna, Lagos to Ibadan and Warri to Itakpe, it has been stories of excitement, success and of course, challenges.

“There are more to come from what we have heard from the media, Kaduna to Kano, Ibadan to Kano, Lagos to Calabar.”

Railway

As Abuja-Kaduna train resumes, NRC gives passengers Nov 6 for unused tickets

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Train operations on the Abuja-Kaduna route resumed on Saturday, after they were suspended on Thursday following an attack that damaged the rail track.

The Nigerian Railway Corporation has given passengers with unused tickets two weekends ending on November to make use of the tickets or forfeit them.

Two reported attacks on Wednesday night and Thursday morning said to have been executed with the use of explosives led to damage on the rail track.

In one of the attacks, the window of the driver compartment of the train was reportedly shattered. This prompted the corporation to suspend the train ride along the route.

But the NRC restored the train services on Saturday after carrying out adequate repairs on the damaged track and beefing up security along the route.

On Saturday when train services resumed along the route, there was a report of low turnout of passengers.

Some of the passengers, who acknowledged improved armed security presence on the train and along the track said they could not use their pre-purchased tickets as the railway officials claimed they had no order to accept them.

A statement issued by the NRC later said customers would have two weeks (ending November 06) to use tickets for rides scheduled during the period operations were cancelled.

The corporation also asked affected customers to give 48-hour notice before their scheduled trips with the unused tickets.

The statement read in part, “Dear esteemed customers, service has been restored on the Abuja-Kaduna service.

“Customers with unused tickets for the 21st and 22nd of October should kindly contact the customer care unit (customercare@tps.ng and 01 888 7741) for rescheduling.

“Kindly give 48-hour notice ahead of new travel date. This offer is open for the next 2 weeks and will expire on the 6th of November, 2021. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience.”

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Abuja-Kaduna train resumes operation Saturday – NRC

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Barely 24 hours after suspending the Abuja-Kaduna trains for safety reasons, the Nigerian Railway Corporation says the services will resume Saturday October 23.

The suspension followed an explosion attack by hoodlums on the Abuja-Kaduna rail track Wednesday evening, which the corporation said affected the locomotive tank of a Kaduna-bound train.

Although there have been conflicting accounts of the attack with some attributing it to bandit or terrorist attack, the Managing Director of the corporation said in an interview on Friday night that the NRC team of engineers and technicians had fixed the problem and was certified that the train service could resume on the route after carrying out extensive an inspection of the line.

The NRC also said in a statement issued Friday evening that the Abuja-Kaduna Train Services (AKTS) would “resume tomorrow, Saturday, 23rd October, 2021 as follows: From IDU, Abuja (AK3) at 0950am. From Rigasa, Kaduna (KA4) at 10.35am.”

The statement read in part, “The board and management of the Nigerian railway corporation (NRC) hereby inform the general public, particularly our valued passengers that Abuja-Kaduna Train Services (AKTS) resume tomorrow, Saturday, 23rd October, 2021 as follows: From IDU, Abuja (AK3) at 0950am. From Rigasa, Kaduna (KA4) at 10.35am. Subsequent train services continue.

“The NRC once again sincerely apologises for the inconvenience.”

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Just in: Nigerian railway suspends Abuja-Kaduna train services over safety

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The Nigeria Railway Corporation has announced the suspension of train services on the Abuja-Kaduna route.

It said on Thursday that the decision was taken for safety purposes after a section of the rail track was vandalised on Wednesday night.

Some Kaduna-bound passengers were reportedly forced to return to Abuja following the damage to the track.

An ex-senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, had tweeted on Thursday that there was a bandit attack on an Abuja-Kaduna train he was travelling in and had a miraculous escape with other passengers.

But the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Mr Fidet Okhiria, said it was an attack by vandals on the rail track.

The corporation said in a statement on its website on Thursday that train services had been suspended on Abuja-Kaduna route for the safety of passengers and crew members.

It added that efforts were being put in place to ensure maximum safety along the route.

It also further information about the suspension would be conveyed to the public later.

Daily Trust reported that hundreds of passengers were stranded at Rigasa Railway Station in Kaduna on Thursday morning.

The report stated that most of the passengers that booked ‎their train tickets online later resorted to travelling by road.

An NRC official at the station told the passengers that there was a problem with the train and so there would be no train.

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