Vice President Namadi Sambo in Makurdi on Friday inaugurated five modern 68-seater passenger coaches delivered to the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) by a Chinese firm. At the ceremony, Sambo said that train services would begin in Abuja within the first week of February.
The vice-president said more train deliveries were being expected before May, adding that the inauguration of more trains was part of the transformation agenda of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
He said the president was determined to revive air transportation and other means of transportation to ease the movement of Nigerians.
Sambo said the Federal Government was committed to mitigating the suffering of Nigerians
“I will like to assure commuters of this service of the corporation’s commitment to providing reliable, safe and affordable train services.” he said.
The vice-president urged NRC to ensure proper maintenance and use of the trains.
In an address, the Managing Director of NRC, Mr Adeseyi Sijuwade, said Makurdi-Enugu-Port Harcourt inter-city passenger services would operate one return trip per week and increase over time.
“On Tuesdays, the train will run from Port Harcourt to Makurdi, departing from Port Harcourt station at 7 a.m. prompt passing through Aba, Umuahia, Ovim, Enugu, Otukpo and arrive Makurdi at 8 p.m.
“On Wednesday, the train will depart Makurdi at 7 a.m. on its way back to Port Harcourt.
“We intend to inaugurate other sections of the line from Makurdi to Lafia, Kafanchan, to Kuru, Bauchi to Gombe with a branch line from Kafanchan to Kaduna by end of February.
“Once the challenge of insurgency is fully addressed, we will be able to complete the rehabilitation of the section from Gombe to Maiduguri.
“We will also commence train services in the zone, the inauguration of Zaria/ Funtua /Gusau Kaura Namoda, also the Abuja to Kaduna standard gauge line.
Gov. Gabriel Suswam said the commencement of train services in the state would facilitate easy transportation of agricultural products from the state to other parts of the country.
The Minister of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar, commended all contractors for rehabilitating the 463km line from Port Harcourt to Makurdi.
He said the dredging of River Benue from Lokoja was also a project in the sector to promote economic development.
He said the ministry and NRC would ensure proper use of the trains.
In his remark, the Chairman of NRC Board, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, said it was government’s ‘commitment to satisfy the yearnings of the people by returning the mass courier of passengers and freight.
He promised proper usage and supervision of the facility.
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