Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
Ahead of the 2018 deadline for the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, the federal government on Monday, ordered the contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), to work day and night.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, gave the directive on behalf of government, during the August edition of the Monthly Steering Committee meeting on the Lagos -Ibadan Rail Project, at Papalanto in Ogun State.
Amaechi, who gave the directive in Papalanto, in Ogun State, during the on-the-spot assessment tour of the project sites, also mandated the management of the company to equally work on Sundays in order to deliver the project as planned by President Muhammadu Buhari led administration.
According to him, “the new directive became imperative as a result of the urgency and the importance the All Progressives Congress led government attached to the railway project in the country.”
The minister further instructed the company to write to the leadership of the Labour Union Congress and intimate it with the reasons they should engage workers day and night as well as on Sunday, to avoid having problems with the union.
He said: “we are progressing but we felt that they have slowed down, and their argument is that there is no way they could have done earth work during the rainy season. But at the stakeholders’ meeting, they promised that they will improve now that the rain appears to be abating.
“Their fear however, is that in the next one or two weeks the rain will come down again but immediately after, the speed will increase to make up for the past weeks that they slowed down the work. We told them, if they go by the original agreement then, everything will take three years but we told them that it has to be done in one year. I told them that they have to work day and night including Sundays. I am a Christian; so I shouldn’t have given that advice but I have to do so because of the urgency of the work and the importance we attach to the project.
Amaechi, speaking further, hinted that, “CCECC have been able to complete 12 kilometres of tracks laying. Last time we were here they did three kilometers but I am not satisfied with it.
“Their argument is that track lane is not the problem, they can lay as many tracks as possible in a day. They said that the problem is earthwork and we should pray that the rain should stop so that they can complete earth work. They have done 90 per cent of earthwork from Iju to Abeokuta and that it is remaining 10 per cent.”
He said, “If you are very observant, you will see that, there are no rail stations and they may be completing the tracks without the stations, that doesn’t also mean we should commission. Yes, we can run the train, but where would the passengers engage with the train. There must be a station.
“We have discussed it and they will commence. I hope that they complete it before December,” Amaechi said.