The eastern rail line, abandoned for almost three decades,
will be functional by August, Nigeria Railway Corporation
(NRC) Managing Director Mr Adeseyi Sijuwade has said.
The corporation, according to Sijuwade, will not reverse the
new fares it started last week. There was a spontaneous
protest on the heels of the hike in fares last Tuesday. One
of the corporation’s newly-acquired equipment was
vandalised by “hoodlums”.
The eastern line runs from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri. It is
the nation’s second major rail trunk; the first being the
western rail line, which runs from Lagos to Kano. The
western line has been the corporation’s only reliable and
functional rail corridor for over a decade.
Sijuwade, who spoke in Lagos, admitted that the rail line’s
take-off date has been shifted twice due to logistics and
He said work was at an advanced stage, adding that the
corporation would soon open its doors to passenger traffic.
He said: “I can assure you that we shall begin the Port
Harcourt to Maiduguri line by August. Specifically, we shall
begin passenger services on the Port Harcourt-Enugu
route, while the Enugu to Markurdi is progressing and the
Makurdi to Jos would also be reaching completion stages at
about same time.
“Kuru to Zungeru would also be almost completed and the
only axis that would witness some delay would be from
Gombe to Maiduguri, which would be affected by the
activities of the Boko Haram insurgents.”
The five 68-seater air-conditioned cabin trains to be
delivered in August, he said, would be deployed on the
Basking in the euphoria of the successful flag-off of its new
set of mass transit trains by the Vice President, Namadi
Sambo, last week, Sijuwade said the project demonstrated
the corporation’s commitment to bequeathing the best
train service to Nigerians.
Sijuwade, who put the cost of the investment at about
N4.3 billion, said more of such investments were in the
pipeline. According to him, the investments will reposition
the corporation and help fulfill its mandate as the carrier of
choice of the masses across the country.
With the investment, Sijuwade said, Nigeria is now ripe for
electronic booking and online ticketing in line with global
practices. He added that these processes may begin,
especially, for the Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) before the
end of the year.
“We are now ripe for electronic booking and ticketing. My
response to our critics, who have been carpeting our
activities before now, has been that we can not put the
cart before the horse. We cannot put online systems in
place when we have old decrepit trains.
“But with these world class machines, we are sure we can
render commensurate first class services which include
online booking and ticketing. This would begin before the
year ends and we are certainly going to farm this out to a
private concern,” he said.
Restating why the corporation may not reverse its new
regime, he said: “We are talking of new improved services,
more reliability, enhanced safety and reduction in
congestion as well as air-conditioned cabins. If you take all
these along with the cost of this new rolling stock, then
you will realise that the only way to go is this new fare
“We have met with all stakeholders and we are sure that
they would understand the need to share in our
determination to give the best for the railway.”
He said those arrested by the police in connection with the
protest were being interrogated and if found culpable
would be charged to court.
He said the DMU destroyed by the suspects came with
enough spare parts, adding that the corporation has the
appropriate competence to handle the necessary repairs
needed to get the rail car, designed to carry no fewer than
540 passengers back on track.
He urged Nigerians to support the initiatives of the
corporation in its determination to provide the best quality
train experience for their commuting pleasure.