By Lucy Ogalue
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has ordered security personnel at the Abuja-Kaduna train station terminus to deny access to anyone without a face mask, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amaechi gave the order when he visited the Idu Train Terminal to inspect passengers’ compliance with the COVID-19 safety measures, on Wednesday.
The minister’s visit followed the reopening of services after four months lockdown due to the pandemic.
On the increased transportation, Amaechi said the government does not have money to subsidise the fare, so passengers would have to bear the risk.
He added :“Even before the pandemic, we were under pressure from even people in kaduna asking us to increase the rate.
“We just provide the services for everybody not because we want to make profit. At this stage we are not making profit, its just to recoup the running cost.
The minister further said that incidences of eminent personalities flouting NIgeria Centre for Disease Control’s (NCDC) COVID-19 safety measures at airports would not be condoned at train stations.
He encouraged passengers to imbibe the simple, safety basics, saying “protecting ourselves against COVID-19 takes no special training.”
Amaechi also debunked claims by the National Assembly that the amount of indebtedness of the country to foreign countries is tantamount to ceding the country’s sovereignty to other nations, like China.
He further explained that loans being accessed from foreign financial bodies were for infrastructural development with payment stretched across a certain period.
He said an escrow account managed by the Federal Ministry of Finance has been opened, with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) making monthly payments towards loan repayment.
On loan, the minister said he was to appear again before the House of Representatives on August 17, to give insight into the commercial loan agreement signed between Nigeria and Export-Import Bank of China to the tune of 5.3 billion dollars.
“If there were financial institutions within the country that could loan the ministry such enormous sums of money, there would be no need seeking funds across shores,” he said.
He, however, expressed optimism that the project when completed would not only have the capacity to repay the loans but generate revenue for the country.
He added that it would also create employment for the teeming unemployed in the country. (NAN)