By Yemi Adeleye/Ibadan
Skeletal rail service between Lagos and Ibadan will begin mid-September, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) said today.
The Managing Director of NRC, Mr Fidet Okhiria said the skeletal operations will be made of 16 trips daily on the Standard Guage rail line.
Okhiria disclosed this on Saturday in Ibadan during an inspection tour of the project by the Ministers of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi and Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
He said that since the track laying had been completed between Ebute-Metta Junction (EBJ) in Lagos and Ibadan with stations under construction, operation would start between Yaba in Lagos and Ibadan.
“We will start by the middle of September from Yaba to Ibadan while the other construction finishing will continue.
“We already have 24 coaches and a set of DMUs (Diesel Multiple Units) made of eight coaches.
“With that, we intend to have 16 trips a day,” he said.
According to him, the corporation will not wait for all the stations to be ready before commencing operations, so that Nigerians can start enjoying the dividends of the tracks and coaches that have arrived.
The rail tracks on the 156km modern rail line have been completed from EBJ to Ibadan while the 10 major and minor stations are at various stages of completion.
The stations along the corridor are Apapa, EBJ, Agege, Agbado, Kajola, Papalanto, Abeokuta, Olodo, Omi-Adio and Ibadan. .
Speaking on the completion time for the project, Amaechi said they were targeting January 2021 if the Covid-19 will not be a constraint to the workers.
“Before Covid-19, for every station we have between 150 to 200 workers but now we have 10 to 20 workers on the sites.
“We have told them now to increase the number of workers and manage Covid very well.
“Covid-19 has come to stay but government has to run.
“We have to deliver our promises to the people because that is why we are elected, so, let us hope that by January Ex year, the project will be ready, he said.
The minister urged the Chinese contractor handling the project to speed up work on the construction for timely delivery.