NRC Managing Director, Mr. Adeseyi Sijuwade
All is now set for the final inspection of the rehabilitated Lagos-Kano rail tracks, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has said.
The final inspection, which will be spearheaded by the inspection team set up by the Federal Government, will enable the corporation ascertain the true state of things on the rehabilitated rail.
This was disclosed by NRC Managing Director, Mr. Adeseyi Sijuwade, at the opening ceremony of the maiden NRC management three-day retreat in Lagos. He said the inspection of the rail track was in line with the Federal Government transformation agenda.
“As soon as the inspection team declares the Lagos-Kano rail tracks fit for human and goods passage, particularly the integrity of Akere Bridge and Bridge 73 in Minna both in Niger State, which were recently reinforced, the corporation would immediately commence train operation”, he said.
The NRC boss reiterated President Goodluck Jonathan’s commitment to reduce burden on the road and constant road accidents with the regular haulage of goods and passengers from one part of the country to another before the end of the year.
“After the certification by the inspection team, which will take a train ride from Lagos to Kano to ascertain the credibility of the tracks, NRC will have no other option than to commence train operations before Christmas,” Sijuwade said.
At the retreat, participants were charged to brainstorm on the way forward for the corporation. The management noted that with the federal government decision to restructure reform and rebrand the transport sub-sector, efforts had been channelled towards rehabilitating dilapidated tracks and other equipment in the corporation as well as training of the entire workforce irrespective of the cadres or grade levels.
Sijuwade disclosed that the present management inherited a railway system almost in comatose state with dilapidated facilities, demoralised and depleted workforce and frustrated pensioners.
Highlighting other challenges encountered and efforts put in to revive the moribund corporation, the NRC boss said: “We met shortfall in budget for salaries, insufficient rolling stock and locos, single track and cape gauge (1067 mm), obsolete machinery and workshop equipment, paucity of fund for training, porosity of rail corridors and accessibly to link rail to airport and seaport.
“But today, the status of the corporation has improved significantly from comatose state to that of a functional rail system. With the Federal Government intervention in providing fund and political will couple with the corporation commitment to seeing the railway lines work again, the Lagos to Jebba rail tracks axis has been rehabilitated by CCECC, and the train operations has been resumed, while that of the Jebba to Kano is near completion. In the same vein, the Federal Government has awarded the rehabilitation of the rail tracks from Port Harcourt to Makurdi covering 463km for a period of 10 months.
He called for active participation during the retreat as the result would play an important role in reshaping the ongoing railway rehabilitation project and the transformation agenda of the present administration.
Also, the Director of Administration and Human Resources of NRC, Aminu Gusau, in his opening speech said the retreat was an opportunity for the senior staff of the corporation to engage in conversation and reflect on past activities of the organisation and chart a new way forward to actualise the transformation agenda of the Federal Government as regards the rail sub-sector in particular and transport sector in general.