â€¢ Lai Mohammed: December deadline for Lagos- Ibadan railway sacrosanct
Olawale Ajimotokan and Sunday Okobi in Lagos
The federal government is negotiating with Russian Exim Bank and other investors from India to raise $46 billion to fund railway modernisation across the country.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, revealed yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari had given approval to source of loan for the completion of the three standard gauge lines running from Lagos- Kano, Lagos -Calabar and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri.
He made the disclosure yesterday at the Lagos- Ibadan Railway transport management office in Papa Lanto, Ogun State.
He andÂ the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, theÂ ChairmanÂ Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC),Â Usman Abubakar, Managing Director, Fidelis Okhiria, Army stakeholders and officials of the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC),Â to witness the laying of tracks on the 156-kilometre long line.
He said the three strategic national rail network would cost $46billion.
According to him, the country was already talking with investors from Russia, India and America to provide the counterpart funding.
â€œThere is no where in the world where railway is constructed by private money. Usually it is vexed with the government but we may have to borrow because the money is not there. I was in India to look for money and there are people talking to me. I also had a meeting with Russian Exim Bank. Any of them that gives us money will be welcomed, because the Chinese are already funding the Lagos- Kano line. The president has given the clearance for talks with investors,â€ Amaechi said.
The railway which runs from Apapa Port has nine stations in between Ibadan.
The ministers and other parties reviewed theÂ challenges mitigating the completion of the railway project.
Some of the obstructions to be relocated are buildings, pipelines carrying petroleum products, pipe borne water, sewages, bridges and theÂ 81 Base Ordinance Corps,Â Barracks in Yaba, Lagos.
But Mohammed told reporters after the inspection that the December deadline was sacrosanct.
The minister, who affirmed thatÂ the idea of the tour was to showcase to Nigerians the amount of work the government was doing in the last three years, starting with railway,Â Â said they had resolved to work to meet the deadline irrespective of any challenges.
â€œThe project is a huge success in the sence that itÂ has also created 7,000 jobs for Nigerians. ByÂ tomorrow, we are going to Works, Power as well as inspect the Lagos -Ibadan Expressway. The central idea is to let Nigerians know that this administration has done a lot in the area of infrastructural development. In particular, many people complain that they donâ€™t know that this government has done so much, so we want to show people what we have achieved.
The December deadline for the Lagos- Ibadan standard gauge is not negotiable, and I am happy that both the consultants and contractors and others have seen why it is important to meet this deadline. The challenges observed are not insurmountable. We have resolved some of the challenges which are administrative, Â political among other setbacks, Â but the issue is that this is our flagship programme which will change and transform the economy and the country in a manner that has not been seen before,â€ Mohammed said.
Amaechi remained upbeat. He said the timeline would not be revised, adding 60 per cent of the project had been done by CCECC, which also lays 1.5 kilometres of track daily.
According to the minister, there would be a temporary location of the military barracks through making funds available. He added the relocation of theÂ bridges would also be resolved through creation of alternative route.