By Shorunke Tunde
Ahead the start of commercial operation on the new Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line, 20 new coaches have arrived in Nigeria, 10 of which will be deployed along the route.
A source at the Federal Ministry of Transportation who gave the hint on Sunday also said the remaining 10 new coaches would be sent to the Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge rail line to ease the congestion being experienced on the route.
The new coaches from China were delivered last week, according to the source. “The 20 coaches will be inspected by the minister during another round of work assessment on the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line,” said the source.
Government had extended the new rail line project to the Lagos port as part of measures to ease the congestion on the Apapa port roads.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is expected to inspect the port to Ebute-Meta line and ride on the train from Iddo to Abeokuta and Ibadan.
A seven-man delegation from the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Railway Corporation had recently returned to the country from China where they had reportedly inspected about 44 units of coaches and locomotives meant for the Nigerian train services.
There has been an upsurge in the number of passengers on the 186.5km Abuja-Kaduna train service following frequent cases of kidnapping along the Abuja-Kaduna road. This increase as well as shortage of coaches has resulted in alleged ticket racketeering by some railway workers.
This prompted the government to place order for the importation of 30 coaches and 300 wagons, with some of them meant for the Lagos-Ibadan rail line expected to be inaugurated in April or May this year