The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) says there is no cause for alarm over the low patronage of the newly introduced free train ride on Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail.
Mr Yakub Mahmood, NRC’s Deputy Director, Public Relations, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos that the low patronage was expected, being a new service.
NAN reports that the free train ride from Iju in Lagos to Moniya in Ibadan, which was flagged off by the Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, on Nov. 29, started operation on Monday.
“When you introduce a product into the market, it takes some time before people will start appreciating the product,’’ Mahmood told NAN.
According to media reports, only six passengers took advantage of the free ride on Monday and Tuesday.
Mahmood, however, said that the patronage had started improving as many people were beginning to know about the free ride.
“The ride from Iju in Lagos to Moniya in Ibadan with two luxury coaches has been described as most comfortable, taking about two hours.
He said that the train departs Ibadan for Lagos at 9.00a.m each day (Monday to Friday) and returns to Ibadan each day by 4.00p.m.
Mahmood urged commuters to take advantage of the free ride, while it lasts.
NAN reports that the minister had said the free train ride remained a promise made to Nigerians for the Yuletide, adding that he was pleased with the ride.
Amaechi said that the train would run one return trip to Ibadan each day until Dec. 19 before a break on Dec. 20 to allow for the routine inspection.
According to him, from Dec. 21, the Federal Government is expected to run the service twice a day.
He said that by that time, it was expected that train service would cover more distance from Agege in Lagos to Ibadan.
According to him, the contractor is also committed to delivering minor stations along the corridor before the end of the year.
He said the completion of the tracks would afford the contractor to concentrate on the stations and the installation of the signals and communication equipment.
“Without the signal and communication equipment, the train will be mostly ineffective,’’ he said.