The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) on Tuesday assured commuters that its Lagos-Ogun train services would return soon to ease gridlock in Lagos compounded by the suspension of train operations.
NRC suspended daily train services including Mass Transit Train Services (MTTS) in September on the narrow gauge from Ijoko in Ogun to Ebute Meta and Apapa in Lagos State.
The Lagos District Manager of NRC, Mr Jerry Oche, told newsmen that no fewer than 10,000 commuters using rail services daily in Lagos had been forced to go by road, thereby increasing the road traffic congestion.
“We move about 10,000 commuters daily with trains in our Lagos-Ogun train operations. We run 16 trains daily before we pruned down to 10 trains because of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail Line.
“We know the hardship that a lot of people are going through now but I want our customers to understand that we care. The contractor is working round the clock.
“I have seen that the contractor has been making a lot of progress in this month of November to catch up with what it lost in October.
“In no distant time, we will be back and better,’’ he said.
Oche said that most culverts and drains were ready.
“We are putting pressure on the contractor to ensure it finishes the job in time without compromising the standards.
“We appeal to our customers to be patient with us.
“In most cases, for you to enjoy something better, you might have to suffer a little; that is the sacrifice we are asking everybody to make at this time,” he added.
The district manager said that a lot of railway staff using trains to get to work were also finding it difficult since the suspension of train operations.
Oche said: “We also have staff staying as far as Ijoko in Ogun, who are going through the hardship of coming to work daily by road as others.’’
According to him, the suspension became necessary because there are places where the narrow gauge must be relocated to make room for the standard gauge, and places where culverts must be extended across the narrow gauge.
“There are places where the standard gauge is higher, flood will be over the narrow gauge; we need to construct drains, we cannot do all these if we are running trains on the narrow gauge.
“We thought we could do these in six weeks. Unfortunately, work is still ongoing after the expiration of six weeks, though the contractor has made a lot of progress.
“The track work is moving very fast now, but as of today, the reason for the shutdown has not been resolved,’’ he said.
Oche said that excessive rain in October impeded the delivery of the project as projected.
NAN reports that the suspension compounded road traffic situation in Lagos as thousands who used trains now go by road.
The suspension is to enhance completion of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Line which requires shifting the narrow gauge and relaying it to accommodate the standard gauge rail line.
The project is being handled by China Civil Engineering Construction Company.
The NRC had told commuters that the train services would resume on Nov. 15.