The Nigerian Railway Corporation has postponed indefinitely the resumption of its suspended Abuja-Kaduna train service, following public outcry against the initial decision to return to operation next Monday May 23.
The service was suspended after terrorists on March 28 attacked a passenger train on that route, near Kaduna, killing eight people and abducting over 60 passengers, most of who are still in captivity.
The NRC had earlier in the week said the Federal Government had approved that train service should resume next Monday while efforts are being intensified to secure the release of those still held captive.
But relatives of the abducted by train passengers kicked against this, vowing to obstruct any train operation on the route without the release of their loved ones. Some option leaders also called on the government to rescind its decision to resume the train service.
A statement by the NRC Deputy Director Public Relations, Mahmoud Yakubu, on Friday evening announced a shift in the resumption date of the Abuja-Kaduna train and apologised for this.
It also said, “A new date will be announced soonest. The NRC will continue to cooperate and collaborate with the Federal Government in its uncompromising mandate of protecting the territorial integrity and the internal security of Nigeria for safeguarding the lives and properties of its citizens especially as it concerns the rail subsector.”
The corporation identified with relatives of those in captivity after the last train attack, adding that actions were being taken to secure their safe release.
It stated, “The Federal Government is alive to its
responsibility for the safe rescue of all persons being held hostage. We therefore appeal, particularly to the relatives of persons held hostage to be patient and cooperate with the corporation and the security agencies.”
New Lagos-Ibadan rail link to Apapa port ready by month end – Minister
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.
Chinese begin training of Nigerians ahead of new Lagos-Ibadan railway handover
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
Abducted Abuja-Kaduna train passengers not yet released – Relatives
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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