The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said on Monday the country might return to the use of old locomotives to keep the train service on track.
The minister, who disclosed this to journalists during the inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan project, apologised to Nigerians over last weekend’s breakdown of a Kaduna-Abuja passenger train.
He said the contractor and the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) had been asked to effect repairs on the train.
Amaechi said Kano-Maradi rail project would address the problems of bad roads in the country.
He said: “The essence of that line is for us to be able to transport cargo, not just from the Niger Republic but from neighbouring states.
“We are not competing well with Togo, Benin Republic, Ivory Coast and Ghana over cargoes that come from the landlocked states.
“The excuse given for the poor competition by Nigerians is that our roads are bad, criminals attack them at police and Customs checkpoints. They are not able to do business due to the high cost of transactions.
“If we have to compete favourably, it means that Nigeria has to repair or rebuild the roads. However, a rail line will solve the problem.”
The minister also tasked the contractor working on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line to increase the pace of the work.
“There is a need for the contractors to increase the pace of the work. They were doing well, but the pace of work has slowed down.
“COVID-19 is no longer an excuse. They have worked for three months; we insist. The Permanent Secretary, myself, Chairman of NRC Board, and the tech committee should meet with them tomorrow (Tuesday) to ensure the pace of work is increased so that by the next time, we will see a huge improvement.
“They gave COVID-19 as an excuse for cutting down the number of workers but if you wear your mask and sanitise your hands, you will reduce the risk of infection,” he added.
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