THE railway station in Agbor, Delta State will now be called Goodluck Jonathan Railway Station and Complex in honour of the immediate past President of Nigeria.
This followed the approval for the naming by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi broke the news in Agbor during a test run ride of the Warri-Itakpe rail track.
The Goodluck Jonathan Railway Station and Complex is the operational hub of the 276km Warri-Itakpe rail line.
Other stations on the route are Eganiy; Adobe; Itogbo; Agenebode; Uromi; Egehen; Igbanke; Agbor; Abraka; Okpara and Ujewu.
Also during the test run, Amaechi told reporters that commuters on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line would have to wait for some time more for the service to resume.
He said the service which was suspended in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown “cannot resume now because people are not obeying the physical distancing.”
“It is worse when you have to deal with 4,000 passengers a day between Kaduna and Abuja,” he added.
The minister said that when the service eventually resumes, the number of passengers per coach would be reduced from 88 to 40 passengers in compliance with the social distancing protocols.
Continuing, he said: “Imagine when you are dealing with passengers and this test run on Itakpe-Warri track will make us go back to the drawing board.
“The first thing we will put in place, and we are waiting for approval, is that the cost of transportation to Kaduna from Abuja will double, because each coach takes 88 passengers but we will reduce it to 40 and the implication is that the price will increase.
“We need to talk to the President before we move on with that.
“The next thing is everybody must come with his or her hand sanitizer, and it must be a minimum of 90 per cent alcohol.
“The next thing is that you must come with your face mask. No face mask, no entry. If you enter the train and you bring down your face mask, we will stop.
“We will also increase the presence of Police for enforcement of law and order.”
On the likely violation of rules by some VIPs as witnessed in the aviation sector when the service eventually resumed, he said: “There is no big man about death. If you want to die, please don’t kill other people. If you want to die, go home and die peacefully, whether you are a big or a small man.
“Everybody must obey the rules, and that is why I said the presence of the police will be increased in all the coaches. The implication is that when you enter the coach with your mask and you pull it down, we will stop and we will not move.
“So, if the passengers are not satisfied with that, they should go and force you or the police, no matter how big you are.”
On whether the sitting arrangement in the train would be similar to the one in airplanes, he said: “We are going to comply with the COVID Committee and the committee says three metre distance.
“That is why we are reducing the number of passengers from 88 to 40 per coach, because we want to observe the protocol and not spread COVID-19.”
He expressed satisfaction with the job done by the contractors who handled the Warri-Itakpe track project.
He said: “I have just been briefed that Julius Berger has parked out and CCECC is mounting a little pressure for us to take over so that they can also quit.
“NRC and the ministry will take over. I have told Director Rail and the Managing Director of NRC to make arrangements for them to do their final inspection and then take over from CCECC and Julius Berger and then we will move on from there.”
On when the project would be commissioned, he said: “That will be dependent on the ability of the ministry to convince the Presidency that we are ready for commissioning because it is the President that will do that and we are thinking about virtual commissioning.”
He could not say when work would be completed on the Lagos-Ibadan rail line and Ibadan to Kano.
He said: “It is difficult to deal with timelines now. We were determined to complete the Lagos-Ibadan rail by May, but the COVID-19 pandemic interfered.
‘For instance, CCECC said they need 1000 workers at the Ebute Metta Station, but they are using only ten workers per day.
“I don’t know when we will start Ibadan-Kano, but whenever we start, we will be requiring more than 10,000 workers.
“From Kaduna to Kano, 10,000 workers, and from Ilorin to Ibadan 10,000 workers while trying to maintain social distancing. If you get 1,000 workers instead of 10,000, that means the workers are reduced by 90 per cent.
“So, we are all in trouble. But I want to take the position of the President. He said the fact that there is COVID-19 does not mean that we can’t work, and that is one reason why I am here today.
“If there is one man that should be scared of COVID, I am, but I still have to do my job as the Minister of Transportation.”