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Excitement as NRC holds train tour for senior citizens

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From left, Former Secretary of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Mr Uduma Uduma; Dr Ngozi Nwosu, a former Medical Director of NRC; former Managing Director of the NRC, Mr Nathaniel Okoro, Director-General, National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC) , Dr Emem Omokaro at Obafemi Awolowo Station, Omi Adio town, Ibadan, during the Business Class Train Ride Funfare... on Thursday.

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.

Railway

New Lagos-Ibadan rail link to Apapa port ready by month end – Minister

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The Federal Government has announced that it will actualise the linking of Lagos-Ibadan standard guage rail line to the Apapa port by the end of this month.

Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, disclosed this in Lagos on Monday, noting that a Customs building housing a radio-active scanner had been obstructing the complete extension of the rail track to the port quay.

She spoke while addressing journalists after an inspection of the affected building at the APM Terminals in the Apapa port.

She said, “By the end of this month, we want to ensure that the removal of this Customs facility which is on the rail track is resolved. The goal is to have this track operational by the end of this month.”

Senator Saraki explained that in the interim, a diversionary line is being constructed while experts’ advice was being sought on the demolition of the Customs scanner building.

Senator Saraki said, “We are here to look at the issues affecting activities to connect the rail to the Apapa seaport.

“As you can see, the construction of this standard gauge has been ongoing for more than two years and I came here to inspect the activities.

“We want to ensure that before the end of next month, the activities here have improved.”

She also said, “Although this building looks big, it is actually a minor issue that will be resolved by the time the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) seat together to discuss it.”

When asked why the delay over the removal of the Customs scanner building, Saraki said, “Inside the Customs building are radio-active scanners that can be injurious to human health and well-being. So, it is not a building that can just be demolished like any other property.”

“It is a radioactive facility. It has a scanner and we have to ensure that the demolition is done safely by experts.”

At the Tin-Can Island Port, the minister inspected some failed berths and collapsing quays at the Five Star Logistics Terminal and Tin-Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), and revealed that efforts would be geared to repair them without disturbing port operations.

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Chinese begin training of Nigerians ahead of new Lagos-Ibadan railway handover

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China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC) has commenced the process of handing over the operation of the newly inaugurated Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway to Nigerians.

The CCECC has organised a one-month training for the NRC workers.

About 167 NRC workers and those of the Federal Ministry of Transportation participated in the training.

The 157-kilometre standard gauge commenced full commercial operation in June 2021 after it was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari.  It is currently being operated largely by the Chinese with a few NRC workers understudying them.

The training is part of the sustainability plan after the handover of the operation to the NRC  as contained in the agreement the Federal Government signed with the Chinese firm.

The workers, it was learnt, were trained in various aspects of the railway operations such the sub-grade and structures, permanent way and introduction to various equipment, stations and communication, signaling and power supply system.

The Deputy Managing Director of CCECC, Xia Lijun, stated that the training was part of the processes to be observed preparatory to the final handover of the entire Lagos-Ibadan railway system.

He stated that there was no doubt that the participants have gained wealth of experiences from the training programme.

Lijun emphasised that the experience garnered so far would make the operation of the dedicated railway highly functional and meet up with the purpose for which the project was designed.

He enjoined all the trainees to be highly focused with full confidence in administering the knowledge already gained from the comprehensive training programme in both theory and practical processes.

Managing Director of NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria, said the training was the first of its kind in the history of railway modernization which started a long time ago.

He stated that the knowledge garnered would help in improving the infrastructure the government is handing over to the NRC.

Speaking on behalf of the trainees, Mrs. Kemi P. Ogbonna, District Superintendent Western District, said the training had exposed them to the rudiments of running and maintaining a new railway such as the new Lagos Ibadan standard gauge

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Abducted Abuja-Kaduna train passengers not yet released – Relatives

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Relatives of abducted Abuja-Kaduna train passengers have dismissed as false, reports on social media about the release of the passengers.

A statement issued on Thursday in Kaduna by leaders of the “Relatives of AK9” Group, Dr AbdulFatai Jimoh and Dr Ba’aba Muhammad, said, “The news circulating in the social media on the purported release of AK9 Abuja-Kaduna Train abducted passengers is totally false and the general public should please disregard it.”
Scores of passengers were abducted on March 28, when bandits attacked the train close to Kaduna.
Eight of the train passengers were killed during the attack.

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