Ahead of the Wednesday date for resumption of the Abuja to Kaduna train service, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said passengers without face masks would not be allowed on board.
Amaechi said this at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja.
Newsmen report that the train service was closed due to outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The minister also urged all passengers to come with their hand sanitizer of 79 per cent alcohol as the ministry would not provide for passengers.
He also revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari had also approved the upward review of fares for the railway stations as follows: economy class, N3,000, business class N6,000.
Amaechi said most people using the train could afford to pay the fare and most people were of the opinion that it was nothing compared to the risk of kidnappers on the road.
“If you ask the last speaker, 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 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. 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 number of policemen in each coach, the police will ask him to wear back your mask for respect. If you refuse, he would ask the driver to stop,” Amaechi said.
On wearing of face shield, Amaechi said: “Don’t come with face shield, if you want to come with your face shield, don’t forget to come with your face mask. 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.
“I said mask, I didn’t say wrapper, I did not say you should cover your face with 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.
“Come with your sanitizer that is not below at least 79 per cent alcohol. We will check it, I’m not joking. I’ll be there on Wednesday morning and I’ll be there till mid-afternoon.”
On physical distancing, he said: “We have reduced, for purpose of physical distancing, the number of passengers coaches that convey 88 passengers will now not convey more that 50 passengers.
“So you have your space. That’s why we increased the transport fare from N1500 to N3000 for economy; for business class N5000; and for first class N6,000.
“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 economy and business class, you need physical distancing or social distancing and that’s why we have created those spaces.”
He concluded by saying that “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/physical distancing,” Amaechi said.