Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi has said the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge train will be ready for inauguration next month.
He said he had informed President Muhammadu Buhari about the inauguration, noting that the project must be completed up to the Apapa terminal extension before the inauguration.
The minister said there would be no reduction in the prices of tickets for the train services.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) currently charges passengers on the Lagos-Ibadan N2,500 for economy, N5, 000 for business class and N6, 000 on first class seats.
Amaechi said next month’s inauguration of the project by President Buhari was sacrosanct and the project must be completed up to Apapa.
He said the stations – 10 of them, will be inaugurated at the same time next month.
The minister said: “I have already told the President we are inaugurating next month. So there is already an answer and we are working towards that answer and we must achieve it at that time because the President is aware.
“I am going to the President’s office to give them a date and it must be January. This is not a political statement and it is not going to be Ebute-Metta to Ibadan. No. What is critical is that we must find a solution to the gridlock. The moment we begin to move wagons from the seaports at least to Ibadan, pressure on Lagos will reduce drastically and that is my objective.
“They must increase the pace of work for us to inaugurate next month. We will not inaugurate Ebute-Metta to Ibadan. We will inaugurate the entire stations.
“I agree there are two contracts. The first contract is Ebute-Metta to Ibadan. The second one, which was awarded later, is Ebute-Metta to Apapa Sea Port.
“To decongest the Apapa Sea Port to reduce the gridlock, we have to get cargoes to be put on the train and then transport to Ibadan. That way we can reduce the gridlock in Lagos.”
Speaking about the prices of tickets, Amaechi said: “If you don’t like land, use air. There are three forms of transportation going to Ibadan. There is flight, please use it if you can. You can come by road – which you said is cheaper or you can come by train.
“All the three forms are meant for the poor. If you want to use train, it is meant for the poor. The only one that is not meant for the poor and that is why I hardly use it, is the aircraft.
“Even them (NRC) they didn’t obey me. I said N3, 000 to Ibadan, what I heard is N2,500, which means they knocked out N500.
“People said the same thing when we introduced the same price on Kaduna- Abuja. As we are talking today (yesterday) we are under pressure to get more coaches to Kaduna-Abuja.
“We are being overwhelmed by the number of passengers (on the Kaduna-Abuja train). Don’t worry when we start (Lagos-Ibadan), we will be overwhelmed by passengers.”