The Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr Fidet Okhiria, has said that the corporation moved over 63,000 passengers on the free train rides across the country between Dec. 21 and Dec 26.
Okhiria said this during the end of the year media interactive session held in Lagos on Thursday.
He commended the Federal Government for coming up with the free train ride for 15 days, adding that over 63,000 passengers had benefited so far from the initiative on all its routes.
Okhiria encouraged people to key into the government initiative through the online platform, especially during and after the festive period.
He also said the corporation was working on some rolling stocks, to increase number of coaches and trips from Lagos to Ibadan, amongst other routes.
The managing director said that the corporation was partnering with various organisations on its freight as well as ensuring safety of its tracks.
“Our Minister has given us an assignment to ensure that we are able to move the passengers and freight train between Lagos and Kano.
“We are working on it in-house and we are trying our best to ensure we complete the tracks by the end of December.
” As we speak, a locomotive and wagon have arrived in Minna successfully, and by Saturday, Dec. 30, will be able to move the wagon to Kaduna.
“We have also moved the wagon from Kano to Kaduna. We have some security challenges close to Kaduna; luckily, the military and police are supporting us to ensure that we are able to complete the track between Minna and Kaduna in the next five days,” Okhiria said.
He said the corporation would begin skeletal service round the track and commence train movement in the northern part of the country by January.
Okhiria said that they had issues with vandalism, adding that they just replaced the vandalised clipper between Mokua and Kano on Wednesday.
“We had an issue with Warri-Itakpe track earlier the year, we were able to recover, and now we have commenced full operation along the axis,” he said.
He said that laying of tracks from Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri was ongoing.
“The contractor told me that in 15 days time, the track between Port-Harcourt and Aba will be ready.
” The technical department are working on the rolling track, by the time we occupy the track, it will not be easy to vandalise again,” he said.
Okhiria said that NRC planned to increase the turn around time of the Standard Gauge train between Lagos-Ibadan, Warri-Itakpe and Abuja-to Kaduna in 2024.
He said that there was no increase in train fare before and after the subsidy removal as the government ensured they gave succour to Nigerians.
Okhiria said that the Federal Government was supportive of the corporation in ensuring more train patronage.
He said that train was the cheapest and safest means of transportation.
“The free train that we are running now, government is providing money for fuel, security and other logistics to ensure we meet the demands of Nigerians during the festive period,” Okhiria said.