Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has stated that the federal government’s December 2018 deadline for the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line remained unchanged even as he added that President Muhammadu Buhari directive to connect the country with rail lines must be obeyed without wavering.
Amaechi in a statement yesterday by the Director, Press And Public Relations, Ministry of Transportation, Mrs. Yetunde Sonaike stated that President Buhariâ€™s desire to connect Nigerian states by rail is on course.
The minister disclosed this during the monthly meeting of the Project Steering Committee set up by him for Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernisation project last Monday in Lagos where he also monitored the rail project by CCECC in Ogun State.
According to the statement, “The president is very passionate about the rail projects and has insisted on that the country must be connected by rail and so, by December 2018, the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line must be completed and delivered to Nigerians.”
According to the statement, “Amaechi, while answering questions from journalists on the level of completion work, said from the available records at his disposal, the construction company has attained a significant progress.”
He further stated that though work was progressing steadily as expected, there were still a lot to be done on the rail line as the laying of tracks is expected to commence by December.
Speaking on the materials inspection trip to China between September 12 and 27, 2017, by some Senior officials of the Ministry, Amaechi explained that the trip was to ensure that the best quality materials were procured by the contractor for its use on the Lagos-Ibadan rail project and also, the trip was in conformity with the contractual agreement with the contractor.
Similarly, it said: “Amaechi has also disclosed that the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has procured two Locomotives and 10 coaches for Abuja-Kaduna rail line and another 17 coaches for Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line which is expected to commence commercial operations by June , 2018.
“Meanwhile, all illegal structures within the NRC corridor (Apapa ports-Ebute meta- Ijoko) which is about 6.5 kilometres marked out by the Lagos State surveyor for demolition were already been demolished by CCECC.â€
On the issue of local content, Amaechi, maintained that CCECC must respect the Nigeria Local Content Law as far as project execution with regard to the rail line was concerned, warning that any attempt on the part of the contractor to breach the law would not be taken lightly.
He however, charged CCECC to ensure that any construction work that would be done to link Apapa ports to other parts of Lagos State must be on ‘double track and not single track’ specification.
Earlier, the Lagos-Ibadan rail line Project Manager, Tang Xiao Dong , said water pipes, sewer pipes and gas pipes across the rail corridor in Lagos State were obstructing construction work on the rail line which he said was a major problem for his company despite the over 70 percent work-in-progress completion level attained as at November 6, 2017.
He called for urgent attention to solve the problem in order to avoid unnecessary delay of construction work on that axis.
Speaking further, he said construction of site offices/yards establishments along the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line has attained 90 to 98 percentage completion.
Similarly, , the Project Site Manager of Papalanto Community in Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line, Mr. Charles Tee, confirmed that his company would not only deliver on the expected time frame but would ensure that quality job were rendered for better train transportation.
According to him, the project currently engages about , 1,500 youths who are natives of the Papalanto community in its Papalanto project site.
He said upon completion, the Lagos-Ibadan rail line would employ over 20, 000 Nigerians.