The Federal Government on Friday in Lagos inaugurated the Nigeria Railway Corporation's Lagos-Kano intercity passenger train services and haulage of petroleum products.
The Minister of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar, said at the event that the government was still committed to revamping the transport sector, particularly railway services, because of its importance to Nigeria's economic development.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the NRC revitalised the Lagos-Kano intercity train services to complement the existing Lagos- Ilorin and Minna-Kano intercity train services.
Umar said: ``This segment holds the key to the development of the economy of the nation from the commercial port city of Lagos to the commercial hub of northern Nigeria in Kano.
`` This is vital to the start-off of the transformation of the Nigerian economy.
Umar said that the Federal Government had also awarded contracts for feasibility studies to open up other railway routes.
He explained that the government was also rehabilitating the Eastern Railway Line from Port Harcourt -Maiduguri with spur lines from Kuru-Kafanchan -Kaduna and Kuru-Jos.
The Minister also said that government was repairing the Zaria-Gusau-Kauran Namoda Rail Line.
He added that the government was modernising the Project Phase I, Addendum 1, Abuja-Kaduna (Idu) Standard Gauge Rail Line (187km)
The minister further said that the government was repairing the existing 254km and completing the remaining 22km Standard Gauge Rail Line of the Central Rail Line from Ajaokuta-Warri with station buildings.
The Managing Director of the NRC, Mr Adeseyi Sijuwade, said that Lagos-Kano Route covered a stretch of 1,126km.
Sijuade said that the rehabilitation was much awaited, and hoped that train services on the route would improve Nigeria's economy.
He said that NRC transported 450,000 litres of diesel on Friday from Lagos to Offa, through the route, to mark its inauguration.
``Today, we celebrate a successful completion of track and signalling rehabilitation of the Western Rail Line and the re-commencement of passenger and freight rail services on the Lagos-Kano corridor,'' he said.
He hoped that the re-commencement of train services on the route would provide employment opportunities and enhance trade and commerce, as well as reduce accidents on the roads.
He urged the Federal Government to adequately fund the corporation for the maintenance and operation of the newly rehabilitated rail lines to ensure that the NRC did not relapse into dilapidation.