President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has announced free train rides for Nigerians travelling for Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The free train rides will be free across Nigeria from Thursday, December 21 to 4 January.
The directive was announced by the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dele Alake, while addressing State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa Abuja on Wednesday.
Alake said a committee, which he chairs, had already met with all relevant transportation bodies across Nigeria and reached an agreement that the government will bear 50 per cent cost of transportation based on the prices at the time the meeting held.
The minister said air transportation is not part of the arrangement because the target of the president “is the masses.”
“In the spirit of Christmas and the end of year festivities, President Bola Tinubu, in another demonstration of his love for Nigerians, has approved that the Federal Government should intervene to bring down the cost of public transportation to allow our compatriots who want to travel to visit their loved ones and hometowns to do so without stress and the extra burden imposed by the high cost of transport around this period.
“The President is well aware of the recent increase in cost of inter-state transportation and even for air travel. Traditionally, our people love to travel during Christmas and end of year to be with families and friends and this has been the practice for ages.
“We also know that globally, intra-country travels and movement of people, goods and services always peak around Christmas and end of the year because of socio-gravitational pull of the period which transporters always cash on to increase fares astronomically.
“In recognition of the economic situation of the country which he is working very hard to turn around, President Tinubu wants Nigerians to be able to travel within Nigeria to wherever they want to go to meet their loved ones without the extra-burden of paying exorbitantly for inter-state public transportation.
The full statement reads; “Gentlemen of the press, let me begin by wishing you and all Nigerians compliments of the season. It is our prayers that we all have joyful and pleasant holiday season.
“It is in this wise that the Federal Government is announcing, beginning from tomorrow, a special discounted holiday season fare on road transport and zero-fare by rail across Nigeria.
“What this means is that from tomorrow, Nigerians willing to travel can board public transport via minibuses, luxury buses at 50% discount of current cost and all our train services on the routes the trains currently serve at zero cost to and fro on their travels this holiday season.
“This special presidential intervention will commence tomorrow Thursday, December 21. It will end on January 4, 2024.
“The Federal Government through the Ministry of Transportation will be working with transporters, road transport unions, Nigerian Railway Corporation to seamlessly deliver on this special presidential initiative.
“From tomorrow, Nigerians wishing to embark on inter-state travel to any part of the country from Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Ibadan, Akure, Maiduguri, Sokoto and other major inter-state transportation hubs will be able to do so at half the cost.
“The Federal Government under the leadership of President Tinubu is working very hard to make sure Nigerians have a memorable and happy holiday season.
“The President has already directed the Police, Department of State Services, the Military and other security agencies to work collaboratively to ensure the holiday period is safe without any security breach in any part of the country.
“While we wish all Nigerians a great holiday season, we implore everyone to be law abiding, be security conscious, be our brother’s keepers, extend every goodwill to our families, friends and neighbours. We should continue to work within our sphere of influence to make our country the very best we all desire her to be.
“While we celebrate and enjoy all the social activities that come with the season, let us also remember to celebrate in moderation.
“On behalf of President Bola Tinubu, we wish all Nigerians Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year in advance. Thank you all for your attention.”