Minister Amaechi to Railway Boss: Stop rooftop riders now

Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has directed the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) to put a stop to the menace of rooftop train riders.

Amaechi gave the directive on Tuesday in Lagos at the maiden edition of the Lagos Traffic Radio Lecture Series, themed: “Migrating Workforce: The Challenges of Mass Transportation.’’ He described rail transport as the most suited for mass transportation because of its ability to convey more passengers at any given time.

“MD railway, stop those hanging on top, get the Nigerian police, railway department, to stop them from hanging on top. “Some will fall down and die, and they won’t say it was their fault; what did the government do to keep that man alive.

“Part of the responsibility of government is not to provide infrastructure alone, but is to keep you alive.’’ The minister, who was the keynote speaker, said that an efficient and effective intermodal transportation system was central to the growth of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

“We in the transport ministry believe in the multimodal system where the water connects with the road and the roads connect with the air.

“Without transportation man will die of hunger, take for example, they produce tomatoes in the north, not in the south. “Now, if there is no transportation, only northerner will eat their tomatoes, so you need to move tomatoes from Kano, for instance to Lagos.

“Also, food cash crops rot or depreciate in nutritional quality and economic value due to inaccessibility to markets. “So, basically, you need transportation to grow the economy.’’ He said that the greatest problem of mass transportation in Nigeria was poor governance, adding that the Federal Government would provide the required policy framework for investors to provide such services.

“We will continue to make policies for mass transportation; we are ready to give them licence to go ahead with their rail activities even though for now, it is on the exclusive list,’’ he said. The minister said that the Federal Government was prepared to collaborate with the Lagos State Government to take advantage of the inland waterway to reduce traffic gridlock.

“There is a need to deal with the inland waterways, and it is important the Lagos State Government come to meet with us, if not we will concession it out. “Because you can actually design movement of boats around Lagos to reduce traffic, because if you provide rail or boats people can keep their vehicles at home, pick up the boats come to work and go back.

“In fact, I have actually told NIWA to start accepting those who are making proposals for inland waterway transport in Lagos.

“But the Federal Government is ready to partner with Lagos State Government to increase whatever they are doing in terms of inland waterways to reduce the impact on your roads and that of the Federal Government. “And to reduce the impact on time and productive in business.’’ He also cautioned the state government from unlawful issuance of Certificate of Occupancy on lands belonging to the Federal Government.

”Inland waterway is essential, and it is important that Lagos State government looks at the law so that they stop selling our land because we may need it tomorrow for development. “And when you sell and give Certificate of Occupancy to the extent of
the federal law, it is illegal, when we need it tomorrow, we will not pay compensation.’’