By Leonard Oru, Abuja
The Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi, made the statement on Monday, while inspecting the Apapa station with the Nigerian Railway Corporation Management, Abuja Aviation and l Correspondents Association, (ATACA) and other journalists.
The inspection was done after the 14th project Steering Committee meeting for Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernization project at Ebute-Metta, Lagos State.
Rt. Hon. Amaechi noted that the Apapa Railway station at Apapa needed to be bigger in order to meet up with the required standard.
In his words, “What we have decided is that, since we own all the properties all to the road, the best thing to do is to terminate the lease, dispossess the land and demolish and expand the station. That way, we can have warehouses, we can also have a better and bigger station that will accommodate more”.
He pointed out that there is need to break Nigerian Railway Corporation into three sections namely; sset maintenance, marketing and operations.
“We are looking at the possibilities of breaking Nigerian Railway Corporation into three and I discussed it with the Managing Director. One that owns the asset, the tracks and is in charge of maintenance of the tracks and all railway assets, and then one that operates.
“So you have the Nigerian Railway Corporation that does the running of passengers, trains and all and then you have the marketing . I cannot confirm that but I have put a team on ground to do a study and get back to me but I think that we need to unlock what we currently have because they seem to be over unbundled” he stated.
He also said that the Lagos-Ibadan railway, he said that there has been huge progress in the quality of work done by CCECC, at the Lagos- Ibadan axis, especially on the Iju to Ibadan section had progressed rapidly.
“We also believe that they should be able to complete Apapa to the seaport but even if they don’t complete that, they can go ahead and begin commercial activities from Ebute-Metta to Ibadan which is the original contract actually. It was this government that said that all railways must terminate at seaports, so that one, if they finish it on time, we will go with it” he continued.
In an interview, the Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, (NRC), Engr. Freebon Okhiria, noted that expanding the station will not affect the tracks, adding that the platforms will remain where it is.
“The station will be extended. The Minister is expecting a bigger station where you put your goods. That is what he is saying. I think Nigerians should be happy, I am happy not only because it is happening in my time, but because my children will have a proper rail to ride on” he said.
The train ride from Ebutte Metta to Apapa with the Minister was smooth and prompt as there were no pot holes and no traffic.