Alhaji Ibrahim Bio, theÂ Minister of Transport, on Tuesday in Abuja assured the nation of the Federal Governmentâ€™s commitment to revamp the rail transport system in the country. Bio gave the assurance at the contract signing agreement for rehabilitation of Lagos-Jebba rail line covering 488 kilometres.
â€œThis administration knew the importance of rail transport as the hub of any meaningful transport system in any nation. It is against this backdrop that this administration expresses its interest in revamping the nationâ€s existing rail system while modernisation and standardisation of the system is equally pursued,â€™â€™â€ the minister said.
He observed that the renewed governmentâ€™s interest in revamping the rail transport system was because of its crucial role in the nationâ€™s economy and governmentâ€s unrelenting quest for an efficient rail transport system. The minister urged the contracting firm executing the work not to betray the confidence government reposed in it. For the avoidance of doubt, this administration will expect that the contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Company, CCECC Nigeria Railway Engineers and others involved in the N12.3 billion Lagos-Jebba project to leave no stone unturned,â€ he said. Bio said it would be most expedient on stakeholders in the project to justify the financial resources the Federal Government had put into revamping the rail transport system, especially the narrow-gauge rail system of 3,505 kilometres.
The minister, who noted that the rail transport system had been experiencing many challenges that almost erase its existence, said efforts were on to bring the industry to its past glory. Speaking, Mr Bernard Udoh, the Chairman House Committee on Land Transport, said that the rehabilitation of the rail line would reduce the use of articulated vehicles on our roads.
He urged the minister and the contractor to ensure that the legal aspect of the contract was given the needed priority to avoid the lapses associated with that of Lagos- Kano rail line by the last administration. Earlier, Alhaji Bello Mohammed, the Chairman, Nigerian Railway Cooperation (NRC), said that the signing of the contact signified the importance the present administration attached to rail transport system as a catalyst to the development of Nigeriaâ€s economy.
According to him, the event equally shows the resolve of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to ensure the emergence of a strong railway industry in the country. â€œI will like to use this opportunity to urge all concerned to cooperate and work mutually with one another for the realisation of the repositioning of the railway for improved services to the nation,â€â€ he advised. Also speaking, Mr Adeseyi Sijuwade, the Managing Director, NRC said government had ordered for 25 locomotive engines abroad, adding that about 120 coaches and wagons were undergoing refurbishing as part of efforts to revamp the industry. â€œAll train operators in the NRC will be sent for training in order to impact most positively on their performance on the locomotives,â€ Sijuwade said. Responding, Mr Jack Lee, the Managing Director, CCECC Nigeria Ltd., described the occasion as a landmark aimed at seeing that railway system in the country come back to life to provide efficient and affordable means of transportation for the people. Lee promised the nation that â€œby the time the rehabilitation work is completed, the business climate in Nigeria will surely change for good and rail transportation will begin to play a major role in the country economic and social lifeâ€.