From Suleiman Idris, Lagos
The federal government has reaffirmed its commitment to continue the development of the rail sector in order to lessen the present heavy traffic currently witness on Nigerian roads as it seek for more investment in the rail transport.
Specifically, the government said it has outlined plans to increase the coaches on the railway tracks across the country with more modern ones.
President, Goodluck Jonathan who spoke at the inauguration of two diesels multiple units in Lagos declared that as part of the plan, the implementation of a 25 year transport plan to develop the sector has begun across Nigeria affirming that “This is part of the concerted efforts of our administration to steadily improve the railway rolling stock. It is the beginning. Within the next few months, more rolling stocks will be delivered.”
The President, who was represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo, said “The ongoing railway rehabilitation will continue because of adequate funding from regular budget and SURE-P intervention,” The Managing Director, NRC, Mr. Adeseyi Sijuwade also outlined the intention of the corporation to increase the traffic on the Lagos corridor.
Mr. Sijuwade said with the two new air-conditioned trains and six 68-seater passenger coaches, passengers traffic in Lagos is expected to increase from 16, 000 to 22,000 daily.
He said “Today, we move a monthly average of 3,570 tonnes of cement from Ewekoro; 3,170 tonnes of wheat from the Apapa flour mills and 120 bonded containers from the Apapa Port, all the way to Kaduna and Kano.
These freight volumes are expected to rise significantly over the next few months. “
The DMUs according to him will be deployed for mass transit train services in densely populated cities starting with Lagos.
He added that “The six coaches will be deployed as first class coaches on long distance intercity train services, starting with the Lagos to Kano service. This is expected to increase the number of passengers on the Lagos to Kano service from 6,000 to 7, 000,” The Chairman, Board of Directors of NRC and former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, said the deployment of the new coaches is a milestone in the history of NRC.
“Our intention as a board is to continue to improve on the facilities of the NRC to ensure that the system further increases its passenger and freight movement.” He said.