The transport sector in Lagos state will collapse without rail transport services, according to Mr. David Ndanusa Ndakotsu, the Assistant Director, Public Relations, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC).
He stated this in a chat with Vanguard on Monday while correcting the impression that NRC has been out of operation. “There was a never a time NRC went out of operation. It is just a wrong impression that people have. We had always run intra-city train service in Lagos. Without the railway, transportation in Lagos will collapse,” he said.
Ndakotsu noted that it was only inter-city train services that were suspended because of the repair that was to be affected on some of the routes. According to him, the inter-city train service which was launched in December has commenced operation from Lagos to Kano.
“We only suspended inter-city train service. But that was because of the repair that was going on in inter-city train routes. But the Lagos – Kano inter-city passenger train service has commenced since December 2012. That of Port Harcourt to Maiduguri is near completion and should be ready before the end of this year,” he said.
The NRC official said the railway is the only way to kick-start the economy in the right direction and observed that it had been in comatose condition because of the neglect of the sector by the past governments. He however said there has been tremendous improvement from 2007 when the railway started to receive government attention. The intra-city train service has remained effective and little challenge has been encountered since the Lagos – Kano service started a month ago, he added.
Ndakotsu who acknowledged the need for more locomotives also assured that plans are underway to procure more locomotives to meet up with service demands. He also hinted that efforts are underway to replace the 3,500 narrow gauge tracks to standard gauge tracks. This he says is to ensure optimum speed.
NRC went more than once into bankruptcy during the last twenty years. Lack of maintenance on infrastructure and rolling stock and a high number of employees in the railway produced huge deficit, not taken over by the state.