Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar
By Hammed Shittu and Paul Obi
Residents of Offa town, Kwara State Wednesday praised the resumption of full railway services to the town and the state at large, expressing their views during a train ride from Ilorin to Offa.
This came as the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, said the Federal Government would partner private investors under a Private Public Partnership (PPP) to ensure proper funding of the rail transportation system.
However, residents who spoke to journalists on the resumption of the coaches said the move would help promote economic growth and transform the lives of many residents’ livelihood who partly rely on railway related activities.
They also called for improvement in the quality of services provided by the railway authorities, considering that the railway station in Offa town is one of the main stations along the Lagos-Ibadan-Ilorin rail line.
The town went agog at the sight of the National Good Governance tour team, who rode on the train from Ilorin in continuation of the tour of projects in the state.
A retired civil servant, Abdulrahman Abubakar, who was also on the train from Ilorin to Offa told journalists that he no longer drives on the bumpy roads from Offa to Ilorin.
The octogenarian while speaking to journalists said it costs less to travel by train from Offa to Ilorin than to go by road, and praised the initiative of restoring railway services to all parts of the state.
Abubakar tasked government to also pay attention to the railway quarters in the town, noting that the structures were in a deplorable state.
“I want to say that the present effort to resume railway services is one of the best things that has ever happened to the people of this community. You can see the excitement in the faces of the people, we are all happy with what is going on.
“May God bless you all to sustain it because it will help our people, and you must also make efforts to renovate the staff quarters, it is an eye sore, past administrations have neglected it, please don’t do same, fix it for the people,” he said.
Also, another resident of the town, Awolola Tobi, told journalists expressed his satisfaction with the return of trains.
Tobi said he rode on a train for the first time in his life in 2012 and would relish every opportunity to ride in it again.
Alhaja Bola Alabi, a trader and also a resident of the town, said that life would be easier with the resumption of daily railway services in the area.
He said that her business was doing better with the resumption of the railway services from Ilorin to Lagos through the town.
Alabi assured that passengers would do their part by keeping them clean at all times.
Mohammed Fatai, a youth in the town stated that the youths were commend the efforts of government to revive the railway system in the country.
The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) runs six trips per week, carrying about 1000 passengers on each trip within the Ilorin-Offa-Lagos axis.
Meanwhile, Umar, who disclosed this in Ilorin on Tuesday, during a train ride from Ilorin to Offa, as part of activities marking the “Good Governance Tour” of the state, said the tour had become necessary given the fact that funding of the rail transportation was enormous.
Umar assured Nigerians that new trains ordered by the Federal Government would start to arrive Nigeria as from the first quarter of 2013 while Lagos-Kano railway lines would soon come on stream after its certification.
In his remarks, the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, called on the media to report developments in the country and dissipate less energy on reporting politics and controversies, noting that President Goodluck Jonathan has devoted much effort on railways and power.
Ealier, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Railways Corporation (NRC), Mr. Sina Sijuade, lauded the Federal Government for breaking the jinx by making it possible for the rail transportation to be back on track.