By Kasim Sumaina and Sunday Okobi
The federal government on Friday, offered a three-month free train ride to passengers on the completed section of the Lagos-Abeokuta rail project.
Government, through the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, while on a test ride from Iju in Lagos, to Agbado in Abeokuta, Ogun State, revealed that, the federal government was not inaugurating the project yet but to test run it.
According to him, “This is not a commissioning story, we just decided to put the train on the track to convey passengers for three months free of charge.”
He said: “We are grateful to Ogun State Government for the warm welcome to witness the standard gauge. This is not the first, the first is Itakpe to Warri, in Nigeria while this is the third. The Kaduna to Abuja is the second one.”
He stressed that the Lagos Ibadan rail line, was a project that continues to Kano state after it must be given this overwhelming support by the people to ensure that the project was realised.
“I am happy with this people living along this corridors and they have been wonderful. This is the first time I can see a people that Federal project passed through their lands and they made no demands to disrupt the ongoing project. And with this experience we made sure that the project is completed on time for the people’s benefit”
Amaechi, who enjoined people of Ogun state to vote for the ruling party for the continuity of the infrastructural projects in the country, said: This train as from tomorrow will run on free ride for three months, I will urge the operators to do two or three trips a day, so that more persons can go to work in the morning and return in the evening.
“The trips will include one in the morning, afternoon and evening. But this train will be running from tomorrow free of charge. So those who want to go to work from Abeokuta to Lagos can leave in the
morning and while returning
will join the train at Iju to Abeokuta.”
He further observed that: “While we are working from Iju to Ebute Meta and to Apapa, we are also trying to build our stations and, in a year’s time we would have finished the stations. That way it will be easier to journey through to Apapa,” Amaechi said.
Similarly, Nobel Laurel, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said, “I disagree with the man who just spoke (Amaechi). This is not a political vote gathering occasion, but my house is not far from here.”
He said, “This place used to be my hunting ground and I have come to witness what my hunting ground were appropriated for, am so content.
“For now, we are keeping our feet on the ground, looking at the opportunities for our small traders, commuters and others. I don’t give a damn who puts it there, it doesn’t matter whatsoever,” Soyinka stated.
On his part, Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, commended the President for his efforts in developing infrastructure in the state.
According to him, “The National Assembly has played his own role in providing the legislative framework within which the edifice can thrive and we are looking forward to how it will transform to jobs.”
Ashafa, noted that, it had already stated that, over 11,000 persons have been employed by the NRC, “there are about 2000 Nigerian students who are in China now studying various kind of engineering waiting for the period when they will take over from the contractors.”
In his remarks, Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosu, said, “today, history is being made as the project will open up opportunities within the community and its environs.”
Amosu said that the project would bring about industrial revolution to the state and country at large, thereby competing with developed cities across the world.