Story by Seun Ibiyemi
The federal government, last week flagged-off Lagos-Abeokuta $1.6billion standard gauge rail line.
Delivering his keynote address after the train arrived Abeokuta from Iju in Lagos, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi urged the crowd to vote in President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term if they want the project to be extended to Ibadan.
According to him, “This is not a commissioning ceremony. We have just decided to flag-off the Iju to Abeokuta train ride, which will run for free for the next three months. “We are grateful to the Ogun State government for this deserving reception. This is the third standard gauge in Nigeria. The first is the Itakpe-Warri rail and the second, Kaduna-Abuja rail.
“For the tunnel, the one here is the second. The first is at where the standard gauge crosses the narrow gauge. The third tunnel will be in Ibadan.
“If you want us to take the train from here to Ibadan, then vote for the All Progressive Congress (APC).
“From tomorrow, this train will be running free of charge from Iju to Abeokuta. There will be three trips every day. We are also trying to build the stations, and that should be completed before the end of the year.”
Also speaking in Abeokuta, the Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who also took a ride on the train from Iju to Abeokuta lauded the project and thanked President Buhari for making the project a reality.
According to him, “What is happening to us today is a life changing experience. I say congratulations to all Nigerians because what we are doing today will elevate the country among community of developed nations.
“There is no way we can experience social-economic development without infrastructure being put in place. Imagine when the service is fully operational; spending just 29 minutes from Lagos to Abeokuta will be quite amazing. We’ve not had it like this since the creation of this country,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka cautioned the Transport minister on politicising the administration’s achievement.
In his words, “I will disagree with the minister because this is not a political gathering.
“I am here because this place used to be my hunting ground. My house is not far from here. I came to see what my hunting ground has been turned into.
“I don’t care about who puts the project in place, all I want to do is to congratulate everyone involved in this enterprise,” he stated.
He explained further that, “In all developed countries, 80 per cent of their freight is conveyed by rail in other to take pressure off their roads.
“Our roads are designed for 30 tonnages but as high as 60 tonnages are driven on it thus leading to their bad state.