Kogi State Deputy Governor, Edward Onoja has said Itakpe-Lokoja-Abuja standard gauge rail line should be prioritised, as the route is linking both the Northern and the Southern states of Nigeria.
Mr Onoja said this in an interview after riding the Warri-Itakpe train in Itakpe, Kogi state.
Narrating his experience on the train, he described it as a pleasant one, he commended the federal government and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi for his passion towards infrastructural development.
“My experience was a pleasant one, though with hitches here and there, but pleasant in the sense that by comparison, moving from Itakpe to Warri with the only option, which is by road.
“This by far outweighs it, in the area of comfort, risk level and by all standard, Kogi state government has done a lot by attracting infrastructural development to the state.
“The rail line is strictly a federal government infrastructural project, the proximity between Lokoja, the State Capital of Kogi and the Federal Capital is less than 200km.
“Which eventually, linking Warri, and the entire South South to the federal capital, should not be something the state government should be pursuing, it should be a priority for the ministry of Transportation.
“It should not be something that should be lobbied for, it should be a priority, “ he said.
He stated that “Kogi is a good investment destination, Lokoja is closer to FCT where the whole world comes to, so it is key to link it by rail, and it should ordinarily be as a baseline and priority to the minister of transport.
“Which he already said he would close that gap, the distance is less than 200km, it is not a thousand of kilometer project, the challenges I can see here, might be the River Niger, which needs to be crossed.
“But even Itakpe rail line also crossed some rivers as you move to Warri, so crossing river is not the major challenge and the issue of land allocation for the stations within the state, will not be an issue.
“Connecting virtually every state capital to the rail way system in Nigeria, is a domino long time effect, it will take pressure off the road, which ultimately reduce the number of lives lost due to reckless driving.
“We commend the minister for this, but because of time, they need to set the framework running for the next government and administration to continue from their baseline, in ensuring all state capital is connected by rail.“
He believes proper maintenance of the Warri-Itakpe rail operations should be in place and issuing tickets should be via E-payments, that way revenue generation will be ensured.
“Other challenges to be addressed include Coaches been overcrowded with over 100 passengers in a coach, and digital announcement board was not functional amidst other hitches.