Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, wednesday promised that President Muhammadu Buhari would inaugurate the completed Abuja-Kaduna rail line services next month.
The minister who made the disclosure during the first official test-run of the rail modernisation project which connects Abuja and Kaduna State, said the project was ready and would commence full commercial operations once the president inaugurated it.
Amaechi said: “As for this rail transport, we are good to go. The reason why we are not letting it start now is the fact that we have to consider the president’s several engagement and religious obligation.
“However, we are looking at the first week of July, because we are good to go. In two weeks from now, they (contractors) will test-run the tracks without carrying passengers. “In another two weeks, they will test-run it with passengers free of charge and that will take us till the last week of June.
“So by first week of July, the president will come to flag it off for commercial activities. After the flag off, anyone who boards must pay and that is why I told the director of railway and the managing director of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), to start ensuring that within this one month they should make sure that people who are going to use the railway have a form of identification.
The minister explained that individuals without identification should not border coming to board the trains, adding: “we will not let you in if we don’t know you.
“What worries me more is about the rural dwellers and what I think the Ministry of Transportation should do is to work with the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to ensure that in every station, there is an NIMC outlet so that they can do all the registration in one or two weeks. This is to ensure that we know who is boarding our train and where he lives for security purposes.”
The minister said the government was working on insurance packages for passengers who board the facility, adding that about 1,000 police officers would provide security for the rail service daily.
He said: “Any ticket a passenger buys is covered with a premium insurance and the coaches are going to be insured. We cannot start the process without resolving that. We are getting the Nigerian police as well as the railway department and they said they needed about 1,000 police officers from Idu, Abuja to Kaduna everyday.”
Ameachi further stated that the government would commence the fencing of the rail tracks once the fund for the project is released, stressing that this was also part of the security measures put in place to protect the facility.