By Senator Iroegbu
Rail transport in the country has received a boost with a disclosure that the Lagos-Kano line would resume full operations in six weeks time, after two years of suspended rail transport activities by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).
This was disclosed Tuesday to journalists by the leadership of the Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P), Nigeria Railway Corporation and Project Implementation Unit of the Federal Ministry of Transport, after a week-long inspection tour of on-going projects in train stations across the country.
It would be recalled that NRC was forced to suspend rail operations on the busy commercial route when the crucial Akerri bridge linking the North and Southern Nigeria was washed away by flash floods.
However, following the recent financing intervention of its rehabilitation by the SURE-P Committee, NRC announced that rail operations would commence in six weeks when repairs on the Akerri bridge would have been completed.
The SURE-P Committee member and Sub-committee convener on Railways, Mr. Chike Okogwu, who led a team of inspectors drawn from a pool of professional engineers of PIU and NRC, confirmed this to news men.
Okogwu explained that they embarked on the tour having been mandated by the presidency to get railway back on track, SURE-P injected massive funds into the otherwise crumbling transport sector and ensured that work commenced almost immediately on a dozen sites across the country.
Also, the Chairman of the PIU, Engr Eric Onyeiwu, said that the week-long verification exercise has not just enabled the team to evaluate work-in-progress at the various sites, but has been useful for proper decision taking.
Onyeiwu said that although members of the PIU were worried about the slow pace of work by some of the contractors on site particularly work on Asa community in Aba, contracted to Esser Nigeria Ltd, they were delighted by the overall performance of the contractors.
“Many of the contractors are performing well. But we also have issues to sort out with a few of them. We are expecting NRC to give us more detailed information about those areas we are not contented with", he said.
“There is a noticeable improvement in the quality of work done, improvement by the commitment of NRC, improvement by the contractors and others involved in the projects," he added.
The delegation kicked off their visit from Lagos and went through Port Harcourt, Aba, Makurdi, Lafia, Kafanchan and Gombe and ended on inspections at Akerri Bridge and Brigde 73 near Minna in Niger State.