Relief may have finally come to low budget travellers in Nigeria with the new rail transportation fare announced by the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, even as efforts are in top gear to make the country to regain its lost position in the list of countries with functional rail transport system.
It will be recalled that the Nigeria railroad was built by the former British colonial masters in 1894. By October 12, 1912, the Lagos Government Railway and the Baro-Kano Railway was amalgamated. Nationwide service was run under the auspices of Government Department of Railway. However, by 1955 the Nigerian Railway Corporation was passed into law. Railway reached its peak in the country by 1964, just four years after the country’s independence.
Unfortunately, this did not last, as the railway began to decline for many reasons among which were lack of maintenance, incompetent management, to mention a few. In 1988, the Nigeria Railway Corporation declared bankruptcy and stopped operation for several months. By 2002, services were completely stopped.
Responding to questions from reporters after the final inspection of the railway project, which is due for launching by President Muhammadu Buhari next week in the nation’s capital, Mr Amaechi said test run has been conducted on the railway for more than a month with passengers being ferried free of charge, from Kaduna to Lagos.
Said he, “From the experience that we have all seen today, we are set to go. This test run exercise has been on for over a month. We said it was going to run for two weeks but we allowed it for six weeks so that everybody can use it.”
According to the Minister and former Governor of Rivers State, after the commissioning by the President Tuesday next week, government will then begin to charge passengers N500 per passenger per trip on the economy class.
Explaining why the the fare is pegged at that amount, he said, “As you can see we sought the opinion of the passenger before fixing the fare, they suggested N500 on economy and I will do just that.”
He added, “The reasons why we did not commission earlier is because we wanted the train to run for at least a month and check if there will be any problem but we have done that for over a month and there was no problem”.
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