By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday inaugurated the commercial services of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project, describing it as another milestone in railway transport revival in Nigeria.
The president spoke at the inauguration of the service, which took place at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station in Ebute Metta, Lagos.
Buhari described the feat as “another milestone in the drive of this administration to revitalise the railway system and establish it as a choice mode of transportation for both passengers and freight’’.
He pledged that his administration would continue to prioritise the railway system as a transportation backbone that could transform industrial and economic activity in the country.
On the benefits of the Lagos-Ibadan corridor as well as other ongoing railway projects across the country, the president said that “this vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos – Ibadan’’.
He said that goods coming into the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa Port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot, located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.
“In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos – Kano railway, which is Ibadan – Kano.
“The Lagos – Kano railway project, when completed, will link the Kano – Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in Niger Republic will be achieved.
“The connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.
“This will be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation,’’ the President said.
He expressed delight that his directive to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance on reaching financial agreements with appropriate co-financiers to partner with the Federal Government for the development of the Ibadan – Kano railway was yielding results.
He noted that Ibadan – Kano project would have a connection to the Tin Can Island port and the West– East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
“From the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves.
“Various milestones have been reached, right from when the Abuja – Kaduna railway was flagged-off for commercial operation in 2016 to this Lagos – Ibadan railway project being commissioned today for full commercial operation,’’ Buhari said.
While commending the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, for his drive and tenacity in achieving the milestone, the president praised the ‘‘wonderful team in the ministry’’ for a job well done.
Shortly after he inaugurated the project, Buhari took a ride from Ebute Metta Station to Energy Nature Light, Terminal, Apapa Port, Lagos.
He was joined by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Governors of Ekiti, Oyo, Ogun and the Deputy Governor of Ondo State.
Others in the train were Amaechi, the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki and other ministers as well as some government officials. (NAN)