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COVID-19: FG releases guidelines for rail travels

The Federal Government, on Monday, in Abuja released new guidelines for the resumption of railway transportation in the country. The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi,…

The Federal Government, on Monday, in Abuja released new guidelines for the resumption of railway transportation in the country.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who attended for the first time, made the announcement at the 53rd joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

This is as he said that having seen people dying of the COVID-19 in the country, he is ‘dead scared’ of the virus.

According to him, this is the reason why he always goes about with facemasks and a hand sanitizer.

“I carry these (facemasks and sanitizer) everywhere I go, the reason is I have seen people die of COVID, so I am dead scared,” Amaechi said.

He said that he had opposed the re-opening of the railways due to the risk of the COVID-19, but was pressured to cave in.

“I refused to agree that we should open the railways.

“It is the pressure of those who want to participate in the forthcoming spiritual activities (Sallah) that made me accept that we will open the railways from Abuja to Kaduna.

“What are our requirements? We don’t want to see how handsome you are or how beautiful you are, please wear for me a face mask, not a mouth mask.

“Nigerians wear mouth masks. If you do that, the train will stop and you will come down.

“There is no Christian, there is no Muslim in death, I hope you know. When you die you’ll go and face your God, exactly. And some of us are not ready to face our creators, so don’t take us down there.

“So the moment you bring down your mask, we have increased the number of policemen in each coach, the police will ask him to wear back your mask for respect,” the minister said.

Handling passengers

He said that if a passenger refuses, the security officials would ask the train driver to stop to disembark such passengers.

“Pray, we don’t stop at Rijina, how many of you know Rijina? You know that is where they carry (kidnapped) people.

“If it is at Rijana, you will come down there, if they carry you, you’ll come back after the spiritual activity.

“We will allow this type of mask (surgical mask), we will also possibly allow the cloth mask made by Nigerians, but that is the masks that people put in their mouths.

“So when you are getting the locally made masks, it must be such that covers both nose and mouth,” the minister added.

Compulsory use of facemask aboard

He also said that passengers that come with face shield, must also have their facemasks or be prevented from boarding the trains.

He said, “You will not enter the station if you don’t have a face mask, you will not enter the station if you don’t have the hand sanitizer.

“We must see a hand sanitizer, we must make sure it is not below 79 percent alcohol.

“This one is 100 percent alcohol, this is not for show, this is methylated spirit and alcohol.

“But for those who can’t, this is locally made, for those of you who can’t bring alcohol and methylated spirit, come with your sanitizer that is not below at least 79 percent alcohol.

“We will check it, I’m not joking. I’ll be there on Wednesday morning and I’ll be there till mid-afternoon.”

Passengers reduced 

He also said that the government has reduced, for purpose of physical distancing, the number of passengers coaches that convey 88 passengers will now not convey more than 50 passengers.

He added, “So you have your space. That is why we increase the transport fare from N1500 to N3000 for the economy; for business class N5000, and for first-class N6000.

“First class, you don’t need physical distancing, it is just 23 seats in a coach of 88, so you have enough space but for the economy and business class you need physical distancing or social distancing and that is why we have created those spaces.

“I said mask, I didn’t say wrapper, I did not say you should cover your face with the wrapper.

“We don’t mind you covering your face with wrapper but you must show us your mask before you cover fully before you step in.

“Inside the waiting room, we don’t have enough seats. So if you don’t have a seat, please wait outside.

“It will be one bench of three seats to one passenger, no longer three persons, that is what it will be.

“You may not be allowed to move freely inside the coaches except you want to use the toilet.

“Apart from using the toilet, you will not be allowed free movement.

“We are bringing in as many policemen as possible not only for security but for enforcement.

“Give us between two and three months, we will start electronic ticketing, that way nobody will come to the station to buy tickets, and there will be no need for social or physical distancing,” Amaechi said.

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