The Minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi says disregard for Covid-19 guidelines will not be tolerated on trains.
The Minister made this known during a trial run on the Itakpe-Warri Rail line Saturday, 18 th July 2020.
Amaechi said irrespective of status, the use of sanitizers and face Masks would be enforced while less than half the capacity of the train would be filled to guarantee social distancing..
“We need to maintain social distancing and ensure that we won’t be able to transmit COVID-19 amongst ourselves, now that is worst when you have to deal with 4000 passengers a day between Kaduna and Abuja”.
“The next thing is every body must come with his own hand sanitizer, government won’t buy for you and it has to have minimum of 90% alcohol. Next thing is that you must come with your face mask without which you won’t enter, if you enter and bring it down, we will stop and you will come down even if it is in the bush. We will increase the presence of police for the enforcement of law and order in all the coaches and the implications is that when you enter the coach with your face mask and remove it, we will stop, you will come down or put back the mask and if you don’t, we will not move. Either other passengers force you to wear it or the police will force you, no matter how big you are.
Commenting on how the Covid-19 pandemic will affect the timeline for completion of other railway projects, Amaechi said they would find a way around it.
“It is difficult to deal with time lines now, we were determined to complete Lagos-Ibadan by May, I don’t know when we will start Lagos- Kano but when we start, we will be requiring more than 10,000 workers, Kaduna-Kano 10,000 workers, Ilorin to Ibadan 10,000 workers how can we do that when we are trying to maintain social distancing? If you can’t get that number and you get 1000 workers you will be reduced by 90% then we are in trouble”.
The Minister hinted that the cost of rail transport will double in the face of current realities.
“This test run will make us go back to the drawing board and the first thing we will put in place when we get approval is that the cost of Transportation from Abuja to Kaduna will double because each coach takes 88 passengers but we will reduce it to 40 and the price will increase but we will need to talk to the president before we move on”.
The Minister also disclosed that a railway station had been named after former President Good luck Ebere Jonathan.
“This is a good job, this is the Goodluck Jonathan Agbor Station which incorporates the railway facilities”.