By Tunde Shorunke
The Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, has assured Nigerians that the delivery of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge project would be President Muhammadu Buhari’s new year gift to the citizens of the Africa’s largest economy. The minister, who expressed satisfaction at the pace of work on the ongoing rail project told the newsmen at the weekend that the contractor was ready to deliver on the $1.7 billion project on schedule, Daily Times gathered.
Amaechi while speaking at an inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge, however, noted that except for the slow pace of work at two stations, he believed that the stations would soon be ready on schedule to start the commercial activity. According to the Minister, who was accompanied on the assessment tour of the project by officials of the ministry as well as the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) being handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) no stone would be left unturned to ensure delivery of the train by January, next year.
“We have cooperation from the various communities along with the standard gauge construction. The contractors have done what they could do but the problem is a change in weather. They couldn’t work beyond that period, besides that, I think the contractors have done well.
“The construction is coming to an end, they are trying to beat the target they gave the ministry of transportation because there is a huge improvement. Is there any facility in Nigeria that is better than the one in Ebute-Meta?” he asked.
The Minister, therefore, tasked the contractors to ensure completion of all the stations by December including the Apapa station which started late, so it can be commissioned and the route made fully operational. Amaechi said that the transition period between now and January would enable the Federal Government to acquire the Right of Way for the Lagos-Ibadan route.
He urged people trading along the rail line to please move far away from the tracks as it is unsafe to peddle around the tracks, and emphasized that it could be difficult to embark on perimeter fencing, adding that the fence constructed in Warri had been pulled down by hoodlums. Also, the Chairman, Board of NRC, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa, said in the course of the project, that the Corporation management sat with Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and agreed on areas where overhead crossing and bridges would be constructed.
“We agreed that some bridges and overhead crossing will be constructed by the Federal Government, while others will be done by state governments. For instance, we constructed new twoline bridges at Costain and brought down the old ones to enable us to have access.’’
“As we are coming, you can see that passengers’ movement is under the track, while in some places we could see overhead bridges from Lagos to Ibadan in consideration of human and goods trafficking along the corridors,” he said.
The Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation, Mr Fidet Okhiria said that the corporation would start the Lagos-Ibadan train transportation in November to reduce road traffic during the festive period.