MORE Nigerians now embraces rail transport as the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) conveyed over 4million passengers between Lagos and Kano in 2012.
The increased preference for rail transport cannot be unconnected with the current rehabilitation of the entire rail system embarked upon by the Federal Government.
Disclosing this recently in Abuja, Transport Minister Senator Idris Umar said that there has also been an increased in the conveyance of goods between Lagos and Kano and vice versa.
Records made available by the minister showed that in 2009, 1,285.080 passengers were conveyed on the Lagos-Kano route, while in 2010, 1,314,215 also traveled through the same route.
The figure also showed that in 2011, 3,483,443 were conveyed by the NRC between both states as against only 1,325,455 passengers that have so far been conveyed in the first four months of the year (Jan – April)
A breakdown of the figure also showed that the NRC operates one express train service to Kano from Lagos and Offa to Kano on a weekly basis.
Other services operated by the Railway Corporation are the Lagos – Ibadan –Ilorin – Lagos three times a week and moving approximately 6,188 passengers every week
“Besides the inter states train services currently being operated by the NRC, the intra states services have received a boost following the patronage by Nigerians” Umar said.
Besides the movement of human traffic by the NRC, there was also in increase in the conveyance of raw materials, petroleum products and containers from the ports to various parts of the country.
The minister also said that flour mill of Nigeria moved wheat from Apapa port to Kaduna and Kano just as a total of 1, 500 ton equivalent of 50 trailers of cement was conveyed from the Ewekoro cement factory to Ibadan, Oshogbo, Ilorin, Minna and Kano for Lafarge every week for Lafarge.
“From 2011 to date, a total of 561,883 metric tones of cargo have been conveyed by rail to various parts of the country” He added.
According to the minister, over 26,000 people were conveyed within the cities of Lagos, Kano , Kaduna and Chalawa.
“Part of rehabilitaion plans of government is to replace the narrow gauge with standard ones and engage the services of private firms for the maintenance of some of these infrastructure” the Minister stated