By Aisha Cole
The Minister of Transportation, Sen. Sa’idu Alkali, on Wednesday assured staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) that better allowances were in the offing, to improve their welfare and productivity.
Alkali made the disclosure during a familiarisation visit to the NRC headquarters in Ebute-Meta, Lagos.
He also assured the NRC management of the ministry’s support, toward realising its statutory functions in all ramifications.
The minister said that transportation constituted a major organ in promoting economic growth across countries world over.
“The visit is to evaluate the existing rail infrastructure and ongoing projects with particular reference to Lagos-Ibadan and Kano-Maradi railway modernisation project.
” The familiarisation tour of railway facilities and projects within Lagos was interesting, despite a number of discoveries that required urgent executive action,” Alkali said.
He said that he would reach out to the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mr Wale Adeniyi, to facilitate the removal of the customs building at APM Terminal.
Alkali said that there was need to look for lasting solution on the delay in removal of the building, which had prevented the completion of the two standard gauge lines.
He said the ministry was working towards fixing the single track carrying containers from Lagos to Kano within three months.
The minister added that the ministry was also working toward expansion of the operational scope of Kajola Rail Wagon Assembly Plants.
Alkali said that the ministry would ensure completion of Bola Tinubu Station of the standard gauge rail within three weeks.
He commended the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) for establishing the Rail Wagon Assembly Plant at Kajola as their Corporate Social Responsibility.
The minister said that the CCECC wagon operation should be expanded to include containers freight at ports, to boost economic activities.
Alkali said that this was necessary with the expansion of rail project services across the country.
He requested the Managing Director of NRC Property Ltd., Mr Timothy Zalanga, to provide comprehensive data of the Corporation’s real estate.
Alkali said that the Federal Ministry of Transportation would take advantage of bilateral and multilateral agreements between Nigeria and several countries on trade and transfer of technology.
The Managing Director, NRC, Mr Fidet Okhiria, congratulated the minister on behalf of the entire staff on his appointment.
Okhiria said that NRC was the bedrock of economic growth and development the country, through mass movement of freights and people.
He said that railway, thereby, contributes to urbanisation, business expansion and social integration for peaceful coexistence.
The managing director said that the NRC had faced challenges, which include security threats and vandalism of critical infrastructure.
“We must commend the effort of various security agencies for securing the NRC facilities for safety of our valued passengers and other stakeholders by arresting and prosecuting offenders.
“I will also commend the effort of the minister for the visit to Idu Railway Station Abuja, which in fact, and in all honesty, has spurred us to be more proactive.
” The visit has shown the minister’s commitment to safe, clean, effective and comfortable train service to Nigeria people,” Okhiria said.
He pleaded with the minister to use his legislative experience to achieve his mandate of railway modernisation projects.
Okhiria said that the laying of standard gauge tracks from Kaduna to Kano was in progress, while the next stage would be from Kano to Maradi.
He also commended the efforts of the minister on the commencement of freight containers haulage from Apapa ports to Kano.
The President, Union of NRC workers, Mr Innocent Ajiji, pledged to support the new minister for having them in mind to upscale the welfare of the staff. (NAN).