WE'RE COMMITTED TO EARLY RESUMPTION OF TRAIN SERVICES -MINISTER
The Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar has said that the Nigerian government is irrevocably committed to the early resumption of train services across the country. Senator Umar noted that it would continue to invest and apply innovations that would place the rail transport industry in the country in its rightful place.
The minister who stated this yesterday in Ilorin, during the flag-off ceremony of Ilorin-Iddo (Lagos) weekly passenger train service and the launch of the Ewekoro-Ilorin weekly cement haulage.
The minister who was represented by the Ministry's Director, Transport, Planning and Coordination, Alhaji Abubakar Suleiman said 'as you are all aware, the Federal government is mindful of the transportation needs of the people and has invested much to bring back the rail transport system to meet the growing demand of commuters.
'The ongoing rehabilitation of the nation's rail transport industry is being vigorously pursued to ensure early resumption of train services across the country. The Federal government remains committed to the ongoing repositioning of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) through continuous investment and unrelenting application of innovations that will place rail transport industry in its rightful place of leadership in transport business.
'Not too long ago, the Lagos-Ilorin passenger train service was flagged-off marking the commencement of long distant express passenger train service on the rehabilitated Laogs-Jebba track line.'
The Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdlfattah Ahmed represented by the state Commissioner for Works and Transport, Abubakar Kannike commended the initiative of the NRC.
He noted that the NRC is now alive to its responsibility and assured it of government's support to ensure its success.
He said that the haulage would complement the state's investment in the air freight operation.
He said 'Kwara is the real gate way state; a bridge between the North and the South. We are also investing in international cargo which is for air freight that will be disembarking in Ilorin.'
'The two will be an added value to Kwara as it will make the state a hub for economic activities in the North Central and Nigeria.'
Earlier, the NRC Managing Director, Adeseyi Sijuwade hinted that the corporation would soon commence the delivery of 'a train set of 600 tons of cement from the Lafarge cement factory, Ewekoro to Ilorin.'
His words: 'This freight service will be a weekly programme. Interestingly, on 3rd of November this year, a similar programme of cement haulage between Ewekoro and Oshogbo was launched. Under this arrangement, the Nigerian Railway Corporation will be assisting the Federal Government to drive down the increasing prices of cement.
'As a result of the growing need for the mass mobility of people from one end to another for economic reasons, it is necessary for both the private and public sectors to launch into a vibrant and formidable collaboration with a view to stabilising and managing the transport sector. Before now, the rail system was moribund and dysfunctional and there was this very urgent need to revamp the worrisome situation.
'This however, prompted the federal government into taking such drastic and patriotic decision which now has culminated to the corporation's ongoing rehabilitation and the short-term result of which we are all gathered here today to witness.'