NIGERIA – The Federal Government of Nigeria has said that it will deploy 350 wagons and 36 coaches on the Lagos-Ibadan rail line and will increase the frequency of free train rides on the route from December 21, 2019.

According to the Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, the Federal Government had also concluded arrangements to connect the already constructed Warri-Itakpe railway to the Abuja-Kaduna line.

Okhiria, who was speaking at the National Transportation Summit of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria, revealed that e-ticketing service on the busy Abuja-Kaduna route would start before the end of 2019.

“We have about 350 wagons, both for containers and other goods that are coming in on that route. Also we are going to have about 36 coaches for passengers. We intend to run about six return trips between Ibadan and Lagos when we start,” he added.

The railway corporation boss reassured that the government would continue the Lagos-Ibadan line to Kano adding that the plan had already been approved and signed.

Okhiria said, “We are also planning to continue the construction from Ibadan to Kano and the contract has been signed and arrangements are in place to commence construction.

“The target date of completion for this project is three years from the commencement of construction because it is going to be segmented so that the contractors can work simultaneously.”

Okhiria however, noted that the vandalism of rail infrastructure was a major problem being faced in the sector.

“You can’t imagine that between Lagos and Ibadan, we have replaced over 5,000 clips and close to 10,000 bolts and nuts on the track and it is not a good at all.

“Without those things on the tracks, accident can occur. We know the volume of passengers on a train. So vandalism of rail infrastructure has to stop,” the NRC boss stated.

The US$1.53 billion Lagos–Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway started construction in March 2017 after a 5 year delay.

The rail which was to be completed in 2018 has however faced many disruptions including the 2019 general election forcing the contractor to extend the construction period to 2020.

The government has however been putting pressure on the contractor to speed up construction and the commencement of test-runs on the railway is a ray of hope to many citizens of Lagos whose roads are characterized by heavy traffic jams.