Nigeria: Lagos-Ibadan, Itakpe-Warri rail lines to begin commercial operations in September-NRC
London, July 1, 2019 (AltAfrica)-The on-going Lagos-Ibadan railway line will officially begin operation-the transportation of passengers, goods and services on a commercial basis between September and October this year, the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC has announced.
In addition to Lagos-Ibadan, the NRC also said commercial services will equally start on the Itakpe-Warri rail line in August this year, while the movement of trains from Iju in Lagos State to Ibadan in Oyo State had commenced.
The Managing Director, NRC, Fidet Okhiria, who spoke to reporters in Abuja, noted that while some coaches for the Lagos-Ibadan rail line were already on the ground, about 10 more were being expected in a couple of months.
He said, “Right now, you can ride on the train from Iju in Lagos to Ibadan in Oyo State. And we are hoping that in the next three to four months the coaches we ordered will come in. Two coaches have already come in but we don’t want to start with the big coaches because the price will be too much.
“So, we are expecting the normal coaches to come in and nothing stops us from operating them. We have two that have already come in but the Chinese called me recently that we may go for inspection for the next set of coaches soon because we must go there to check their performance before they (Chinese) ship them.”
On the number of coaches being expected, he replied, “We are expecting a set of 10 at first. It is about sixty coaches.”
Okhiria also spoke about moves by the NRC to commence the sales of tickets online, as he noted that over 112 firms submitted bids for the initiative.
He said, “When we advertised this, it took long because over 112 companies submitted bids and so we had to be pruning them until we got about three that came first, second and third. And that is the stage we are right now.
“So we have to make sure that due diligence is followed because once we start it, we will have to extend it to other areas and not just on the Abuja-Kaduna route.”
He said the NRC wanted a situation where the ticketing process would be genuine and where there would be adequate security in the exercise.
On the Itakpe-Warri route, the NRC boss said, “We are operating the Itakpe-Warri line and I think we should go commercial in August. We have not gone commercial because of the place to sell tickets. We are preparing smaller stations where people can buy tickets because we don’t want to sell tickets on the train to avoid ticket racketeering.”
When asked whether the government would connect the rail line from Itakpe in Kogi State to Abuja, Okhiria noted that there had been approval for it.
“There is an approval for a private company to do Warri to the ports and from Itakpe to Abuja. Also, there is another approval for us to source for funds to do Port Harcourt to Warri, Benin and Agbor. All these tracks cannot be lower than standard gauge. There is nothing like narrow gauge again because it is obsolete,” he said.