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We did not suspend Lagos-Kano passenger train – NRC

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The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has denied a report that it suspended the Lagos-Kano long distance train services.

Daily Trust quoted the NRC Lagos District Manager, Jerry Oche, as making the clarification, adding that at the moment, a freight train is on its way to Kano while another passenger train which left for Kano on Friday had almost returned to Lagos.

The railway district manager spoke against the backdrop of an online report suggesting that the NRC had suspended the Lagos-Kano service following a recent train derailment.

Oche said, “We didn’t suspend any train. As we speak, a freight train is on its way to Kano carrying soft drinks. As we speak, a train is coming down. So which suspension? If there is an accident, we would clear it before we run another train because it is a single line.”

The corporation had blamed the activities of vandals on the accident which happened around Niger State.

The accident, it was learnt, involved a baggage van which however did not stop the train from continuing the journey.

Managing Director of the NRC, Fidet Okhiria, had earlier raised an alarm over the incessant vandalism of railway infrastructure by “evil-minded people”.

It was a week after that the Minna incident happened which temporarily disrupted the train movements.

The NRC later blamed the accident on suspected vandals which removed parts of the tracks, thereby causing the train to derail. But there was no injury or loss of lives.

The Lagos-Kano passenger train is operated on Fridays to ferry passengers and goods from Lagos to Kano. The train stops at several cities such as Osogbo, Offa, Ilorin, Minna and Kaduna.

Railway

Chinese contractor lays final track beam of Lagos blue rail

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  • New rail line may extend to Agbara, Ogun State

The laying of the last track beam (T-beam) of a 27-kilometre Lagos Blue Rail Mass Transit commenced on Wednesday with a promise to deliver the landmark project in December this year as scheduled.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu flagged off the engineering procedure at the site of the Marina station of the rail project.

A statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, said, “with the laying of the final T-Beam, all difficult civil works standing in the way of the Lagos Blue Rail Line, which started in 2012, have been overcome.

“The contractor – China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) – will now go ahead to set the rail tracks along the alignment and move the project to completion.”

It said Governor Sanwo-Olu got the commitment of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and the contractor to the December deadline for the Blue Line project’s completion.

Lagos Government will be delivering two rail mass transit projects within the first term of the Sanwo-Olu administration. The Blue Line traversing between Mile 2 and Marina will be operated on Electric Motor Unit (EMU); while the 37-kilometre Red Line, from Agbado to Ebute Metta, will operate on Automotive Gas Oil (AGO).

Speaking at the launch of the last T-Beam on the Blue Line, Sanwo-Olu said the achievement signposted his administration’s commitment to bringing succour to Lagosians and give them choices in mass transportation.

The governor said the rail projects represented the audacity of his administration’s vision to deliver a robust integrated transit system as encapsulated in the Traffic Management and Transportation pillar of his government’s T.H.E.M.E.S. development agenda.

He said, “Today’s final T-beam launch indicates that we are gradually inching to the completion of the civil infrastructure for the first phase of the Blue Line traversing from Mile 2 to Marina. The engineering work today completes a total of 1,967 piles foundation, while we have also completed three 306 platforms, 310 piers, 267 cover beams and erection of 984 T-beams.

“We are not just making promises; people are beginning to see for themselves that all the milestones and the difficult tasks we are meant to achieve to ensure operation of the Blue Line are being achieved. The Marina Station, which is the iconic terminal for the Blue Line, will be completed within two-and-half months. I am restating here that we will formally complete this Blue Line before December 31, 2022.”

The governor said the two sets of EMU coaches already procured for the Blue Line operations would arrive in Lagos from China before the end of October. He said the rail line would be test run immediately after completion, while passenger movement would start within the first quarter of 2023.

Sanwo-Olu said the construction of the second phase of the Blue Line project would commence after the start of operation, which would extend the rail project from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko.

He said Blue Line stations would be built at Festac, Alakija, Trade Fair, Volkswagen, LASU and Okokomaiko.

The governor disclosed that talks were being held with the Ogun State Government for possible extension of the rail line to Agbara.

He said, “The second phase of the Blue Line project will be an easy infrastructure to develop because the marked alignment for stations and tracks are largely at grid level. While we are at this, the Red Line is also on the way. This is a start-and-end project for our administration, with about seven stations concurrently being built. This will redefine mass transportation in Lagos.

“To our citizens, I say the Blue Line is for real and you will ride on it in no distant future. For the Doubting Thomases and people that do not like our face, their eyes cannot disbelieve in the infrastructure we are bequeathing to the citizens of our State. They cannot disbelieve in our bold effort and commitment to improve mobility and deliver transport infrastructure that brings ease to our people.”

LAMATA Managing Director, Abimbola Akinajo, an engineer, said the first 13-kilometre stretch of the Blue Line construction was divided into four phases to enable the government to fund the project from its internally generated revenue.

To get to the current status, she said the construction work experienced disturbances and delays in the relocation of submarine cables, submarine natural gas pipelines, and removal of underground shipwrecks.

“Just as we are laying the final T-beam for the rail tracks, we are also currently retrofitting the train stations at Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu and National Theatre with light in readiness for passenger operation in the first quarter of 2023,” Akinajo said.

CCECC Chairman, Mr Liu Wei Min, described the event as the most significant level of the project.

He said, “We express our sincere gratitude to the present administration under the leadership of Mr Sanwo-Olu in reaching this milestone.

“We will continue to work to meet the ultimate target in delivering the entire project with high standards and quality.”

The T-beam laying event was also attended by Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos, Mr Chu Mao ming.

 

 

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Diesel cost: NRC reduces Lagos-Ibadan trips from six to two

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The Nigerian Railway Corporation has reduced the number of trips on the Lagos-Ibadan train service to two due to the hike in the price of diesel.

Managing Director of the corporation, Fidet Okhiria, told The Punch that the NRC had cut the number of return trips on the route from six to two every day.

He said, “The Lagos-Ibadan train service is running, but we have reduced the number of trips on that route because of the diesel problem. We reduced the number of trips we are running because of the hike in diesel price.

“We are now doing two return trips as against six, which by now should have gone to 10. So, we run just two trips now due to the diesel problem.”

Despite the rising cost of operations, the NRC boss said it was outside the corporation’s powers to hike fares.

He said the corporation had sent recommendations to the Federal Ministry of Transportation for an adjustment in the train fare.

“We just can’t increase it by ourselves. The government has to do that. We have made some recommendations. But even with the recommendations we made, the new price of diesel has overshot our workings contained in the recommendations,” Okhiria said.

“However, we don’t want to price ourselves out of the market too, because the price of petrol is not increasing as such, rather the increase is little when compared to diesel price. And you know we are competing with transporters on road.”

In the last five months, the price of diesel has hit N800 per litre, representing a 28 per cent increase — it sold for 625/litre in March.

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Train attack: Terrorists release retired general’s six family members, one other

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Four children and three adults among train Abuja-Kaduna passengers kidnapped by terrorists in March have been released.

The children, who are the grandsons of a retired general, were released on Wednesday along with their father and mother.

A 60-year old man was also said to have been released in the latest set of freed abductees on health ground.

They were abducted when the terrorists bombed the rail track near Kaduna, forcing their train to stop and shot at the passengers, killing some of them in the process.

A number of the captives had earlier been released at different times.

A statement on Wednesday a Kaduna-based publisher, Tukur Mamur, who negotiated the release of some of the passengers, said the children and their parents were released after the intervention of Sheik Ahmad Gumi.

“Disturbed by the gory videos images of four teenage children belonging to the same family he saw in the last video released by the attackers of the AK9 Train, Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Gumi for the first time since the abduction of the innocent passengers of that train over 4 months ago has reached out to the abductors through his media consultant, sent Allah’s messages to them and consistently pleaded with them to consider the release of the poor children and their innocent parents.

“It was learnt that the health condition of two of the teenage children has deteriorated since the flogging incident that affected their helpless father. A total of additional seven hostages were therefore released on Wednesday.

“The husband (maybe he meant father) of the four kids is a staff of the National Assembly Commission. There was no intervention from the commission or NASS on his behalf since the travails begun.

“This is to confirm to the world that due to Sheikh Gumi’s efforts and with the support of a serving senator from the North, (a God-fearing personality that doesn’t have any relationship with the hostages) who chose to remain anonymous that all the family of six have regained their freedom on Wednesday morning. Also released is a 60-year-old woman, one Hajia Aisha Hassan, who was said to have been released due to life threatening health challenges that deteriorated recently.”

He gave the names of the six family members released as Abubakar Idris Garba, who is the father of the four kids, his wife, Maryama Abubakar Bobbo, and their eldest son, Ibrahim Abubakar Garba, who is 10 years old.

Others are Fatima Abubakar Garba, seven years; Imran Abubakar Garba, five years old, and the youngest, Zainab Abubakar Garba, who is only one and a half years.

The husband, Abubakar is the son of Maj. Gen. Idris Garba (retd). Gen. Garba, now bedridden, had once pleaded with government to ensure the release of his child, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

He was a military administrator of Kano and Benue states during the administration of former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

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