By Jonathan Ugbal; Government House Correspondent
The Calabar Monorail officially opened to the public for use Monday following a directive from Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade.
Over 100 tourists seeking fun enjoyed a free ride courtesy of Governor Ayade on the 1.2 Kilometre facility linking the Tinapa premier business and leisure resort to the Calabar International Convention Center as part of the state’s Boxing Day activities.
Also, the facility is now being managed wholly by Cross Riverians following the exit of expatriates in a technology transfer.
Some of the tourists who spoke to newsmen were excited at the facility, commended the state Government for the initiative and promised to return with their families to enjoy a ride in the monorail which according to Government sources is the first in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“It was wow, so awesome, I am so happy I experienced it” said Munirat Babatunde, who added that; “The Air Condition system is working, everything is just fantastic, I like it and I will come back.”
Chimezie Akachukwu who said he had just arrived Calabar with his family to partake in the Carnival Calabar billed for December 28, disclosed that he intends to spend every holiday in Calabar and enjoy a ride in the monorail.
“It is my first time so I am very happy it is a very nice experience, I never knew we had something like this in Nigeria, it is nice and I feel good” Chimezie said.
“It is a wonderful experience, this is my second time here but I am happy seen this. It is a welcomed development, it is a nice thing and the government should keep it up. I like Calabar, I like Cross River State, that is why I insisted my husband comes. We came all the way from Abia state” added his wife Flora Akachukwu who said they were waiting to take a ride when the Governor directed they enjoy it free of charge.
Governor Ayade who also spoke to newsmen said the Boxing day ride in the monorail was different as the train was now wholly operated by Cross Riverians since “All the expatriates are gone all the white engineers are gone and we have a situation where the complete crew are Cross Riverians and they are driving this system now.
“Indeed, what is standing here, the magnificence of the technology behind here is all been understudied by a team of young Cross Riverians and today it is hundred percent manned by Cross Riverians.
“12 in one shift and you can imagine by the time it takes full speed we are engaging a total team of 50 people to operate the monorail. That creates job, that transfers technology, that transfers knowledge, that creates ingenuity, that creates a challenge, that also creates a new initiative for us to think of how we can apply technology in driving Cross River industrialization process.”
One of the engineers manning the facility, Matthew Odah said that; “The monorail system has given me the privilege alongside my colleagues to be trained. As you can see, we just operated the train. We are capable of also doing trouble shooting so in case there is any fault we will handle it.”
“We all perform the roles of drivers, operators and the maintenance of the train. This is actually one of the best of its kind and it is a thing of pride to be among the first set of people to run a monorail in Sub-Saharan Africa” added Timothy Ushie, who said 12 of them were trained.
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