[UPDATE]Yuletide: FG flags off free train ride from Lagos to Ibadan

The Federal Government has commenced free train rides from Iju in Lagos to Ibadan along the standard gauge rail.

Announcing this during his routine inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail, on Saturday, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated that the rail project contractor, the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) will be holding meetings with the management of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to fashion out the best way to run the free train rides.

According to Amaechi: “We promised to commence free train ride earlier in the year, which is what we have flagged off this morning. We have come today to know if there are some inadequacies to be corrected before the free rides will begin on Monday.

“So, there will be meeting between the management of NRC, the contractors and team professionals to fashion out the best way to start.

“By Monday, they will commence running and we will do one trip to and fro.

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“They will run from tomorrow to the 19th of December, but will not run on the 20th. Free rides will resume again on the 21st of December, by then, there will be two trips going and two trips returning. It will extend to Iju hopefully very soon, but for now, will commence from Agege and terminate at the last station in Ibadan.”

He also stated that the groundbreaking of the University of Transportation, Daura, Kastina state will be holding on Monday, adding that CCECC will be donating $50 million to support the groundbreaking.

While reacting on the time frame of the project delivery, the minister said: “The important thing is that the contractor will handover to us by April 2020. No matter how much you force them now, they need to install the signal upfront and they are not underground.

“So, even if they complete building, what about signalling equipment.”

Explaining the reason for the break-in service of the train ride on the 20th of December, the Managing Director of the NRC, Engineer Fidet Okhiria explained that the break on the 20th is to allow for an inspection of the tracks in order to turn the trips to a twice-daily arrangement.

In his words: “Hopefully, by January 2020, when all the coaches come in, we will continue more trials and by April, we will start our commercial operations. By that time, the stations will be fully ready.

“We have no delay in delivery as we are only focusing to finish before the time that was given.”

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