By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
Minister for Transportation, Mr. Rotimi AmaechiÂ has assured Nigerians that the proposed Lagos-Ibadan segment of Lagos-Kano rail line project will be ready and operational within the next two and half years.
Also to be ready within the projected period, according to Amachi, is the Port Harcourt-Calabar rail line. Both rail lines will, daily, move thousands of passengers across the affected cities.
Amaechi, who disclosed this at a maiden lecture series, themed; â€œMigrating workforce: the challenges of mass transportation,â€ organised by the Lagos Traffic Radio (96.1 FM), at Lagos Television, LTV, ground, Ikeja, said the aim is to reduce the current pressure on road infrastructure with resultant accidents and avoidable loss of lives, properties.
The minister also directed the Railway Command of the Nigeria Police Force to stop forthwith, the practice of passengers hanging on moving trains to avoid loss of lives.
The minister said it is the responsibility of the government to protect lives of its citizens,and that it will be better to allow passengers who cannot afford the transport fare to sit in the train than for them to lose their lives.
According to the minister, the rail lines apart from easing transportation difficulties on the affected axes, will also throw up other opportunities including jobs and auxiliary services that will add to boosting the economy.
Amaechi told the audience that the federal government plans to open up the rail transportation system to the active participation of the private sector. He said a bill to realise this had been forwarded to the National Assembly and currently receiving consideration.
The minister said the plan is to ultimately ensure that the rail system takes the centre stage in the nationâ€™s public transportation system, with the private sector playing a pivotal role, unlike in the past where this segment of transportation