Kasim Sumaina and Sunday Okobi
The federal government wednesday hinted that the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan rail project is gradually coming to an end.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who made the disclosure, however, expressed dissatisfaction over China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) pace of work, adding that the contractor might be maximising profit.
Amaechi also disclosed that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would also inspect the project from Lagos to Abeokuta in the first week of January.
The transportation minister gave the hint during the monthly inspection of the on-going Lagos-Ibadan rail project, Odeda, in Ogun State.
He stated that the rail-line would have been completed by the end of December 2018 up to Abeokuta when Osinbajo would inspect the volume of work done so far.
According to him, “We are gradually coming to the end of the project. Today, we are 6 kilometres from Abeokota. I have been assured that we will be able to ride from Idu to Abeokuta on the standard gauge by the first week of January.
“The idea is to bring the vice-president and some ministers to join us in the ride. And so far, we have installed anti-theft track to guide again theft.
“I will tell CCECC to concentrate on the track for now by focusing on one rail track to the end because work will be faster that way while they can continue with the other lane.
“When one is on use, work will continue on the second lane. Building two at the same time slow construction period.”
Speaking further, Amaechi said: “One of the gains of the project is that no fewer than 9,000 Nigerians are on the payroll of the counterpart funding of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project of the federal government and the Chinese contractor, CCECC.
The minister revealed that Nigerians working on the project, include engineers and casual workers who are well over 9,000.
“While we congratulate the Chinese contractor for their technology, we are now saying Nigerians must learn how to build good roads and railway for ourselves like other countries. We cannot continue to rely on other people’s technology, the earlier we learn that, the better for us,” he said.
Commenting on the man-made challenges of rail project, he said vandalisation of bolts and brazes on the rail-lines, particularly on Kaduna axis are quite alarming.
He said the government, the contractor, CCECC; and the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) had to device means to prevent further theft by procuring anti-theft rail lines.
Also, the House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Lands and Transportation, Hon. Jubril Abdulmumuni, said he had to join in the inspection with his committee members to inspect the project in order to be able to relate to the House on the volume of work done.
“I must confess with what we have seen today; we are very happy but my only disappointment is that what is going on here is under publicised,” he added.
Abdulmumuni said: “I just told my colleagues that I will personally go and see the president and tell him what we have witnessed, and Nigerians should also know that a lot of work is going on here.
“Whenever you have this magnitude of work going on, you must have issues, but with what is going on here, the minister deserves some commendations along with all his team. From our side, we will continue to support the Ministry of Transportation to see that the project comes to completion.