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Keen countdown for Lagos-Ibadan railway


train (rail)

For many frequent users of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, who dread the daily carnage on the busy highway owing to road accidents and loss of man-hours due to traffic, it is a pensive countdown to June when the Lagos-Ibadan rail would be ready for use.

This disclosure was made last week by the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who said by early June this year, the rail transport system would ready for use between Lagos and Ibadan.

The Lagos-Abeokuta rail had been completed earlier in the year when passengers were offered a three-month free ride, though the period of free ride was later shortened.

The prospects of living in Abeokuta or Ibadan, capital cities of Ogun and Oyo states respectively, while working in Lagos has excited many citizens who are seeking ways to escape the chaotic city life and exorbitant accommodation/living expenses in Lagos.

This assertion was confirmed by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), which said it was possibly with the new standard gauge rail line.

The Lagos Railway District Manager, Mr Jerry Oche, told newsmen in Lagos that the nearly completed Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge would open lots of opportunities for various communities within the railway corridors.

“This is a huge opportunity, many people will prefer to live in Abeokuta and work in Lagos due to the speed and timeliness of the new train. According to him, when completed will travel at 150km per hour and Lagos-Ibadan is the 156km journey through the standard gauge.

“So, you can reside in Ibadan and be working in Lagos which is a very good development. The train travelling with such speed will curtail the menace of gridlocks in the cities and relieve the highways from unnecessary pressure. This would also bring vast job opportunities and social advantages to the youth, the populace. The perishable goods at the various communities will now be easily transported to the city where the demands are higher, thereby reducing the cost of goods and services,’’ Oche said.

Already, economies have been created around the railways. At the Lagos-Ibadan railway, over 10,000 people have been employed. Catering to these people at the construction sites are petty traders and artisans, improving the economy of the host cities.
About this Amaechi said: “With the coming of the rail, there is bound to be improved economy for those around the rail stations as there will be food vendors, shop operators at the train stations, motor parks to offer connecting road transport service for train passengers, as well as opening up several other business corridors in the Nigerian economy.”

Amaechi further noted that the cost of land and other properties on the rail corridor have all gone up as many people are already scrambling to buy lands and properties along such places in anticipation of the economies that will be built within those areas.

With the increase in danger on the highways, especially on the Abuja, Kaduna, Zamfara, and Nasarawa corridors that are prone to kidnapping and armed robbery, the rail transit system has offered a viable alternative. 

Unlike the roads and highways, which are prone to attacks, the railway somewhat guarantees one safety. Although petty thieves might take advantage of the mammoth crowds that throng the rails, bigger acts of criminalities like kidnapping and armed robbery are rarely recorded.

That the rails provide a viable alternative to road transportation is a given fact pursued vigorously by the Minister of Transportation, Amaechi, whose key derivatives for the rail system has been to connect one city to another. He is known to undertake rail inspection trips sometimes twice a month, showing how passionate he is about the process.

The rail system of transportation had virtually almost grounded to a halt until the last administration under former President Goodluck Jonathan, who gave initial life to the system, before the rest was continued by this present administration under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government. 

Although the cost of building a rail is higher than roads, its maintenance however is lower and reduces the intense pressure on the roads. Again, besides relieving the roads of pounding and traffic snarls, rail transportation has proven to be a highly economical and energy efficient means of transit. 

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