The Federal Government has announced that it would be reopening rail system for Nigerians that would be willing to travel to various states during Eid, a development reached by the apex government to ensure provision of mass transit and meet the yearning of people wishing visit family and friends.
It disclosed that there would be face mask enforcement on passengers using the rail and other COVID-19 protocols to prevent spread of the deadly virus in the country.
The minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who announced the approval on Monday at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) press briefing held in Abuja, hinted that pressure from some stakeholders’ in the sector forced him to re-open the rail system during Eid celebration especially for Nigerians traveling to the north.
Amaechi stated that reasons the rail system was not allowed to reopen when flight and water transportation systems commenced operation, was to perfect protocols that assist the government to flatten COVID-19 in the country.
The minister announced that a key aspect of the coronavirus protocol was use of face mask which every passenger must put on, either surgical or locally made, before they would be allowed access into the station and board the rail.
Aside from the use of a face mask, he stressed that each passenger visiting the station must have a hand sanitizer with at least 70 percent alcohol to disinfect their hands often.
He said: “Anyone without a face mask will not be allowed to use the train. The moment anyone brings down his face mask, the policemen are already mandated to compel such person to wear it back immediately. And if he refuses, the passenger will be arrested by the police. To do all these, we have increased law enforcement officers on the coaches”.
The minister further hinted that the number of seats allotted for each coach was already reduced to conform with guidelines prescribed by World Health Organisation (WHO), National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), and other health experts globally.
According to him, we have reduced the number of passengers that each coach can convey. A coach that conveys 80 passengers before will now transport 50 commuters and that is why we increased the fare.
Amaechi said that none of the passengers would be allowed free movement within the station and on the rail to prevent a continued spread of the virus.