Kasim Sumaina and Oluchi Chibuzor
The federal government yesterday directed all owners of businesses and structures within the Apapa-Ebute-Meta corridor of Lagos-Ibadan railway to relocate in order to allow the construction of the rail project continue without delay.
The apex government equally explained challenges hindering conveying of cargoes by train to and from the ports, disclosing that it had not constructed the standard gauge to its full capacity.
The Minister for Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi gave the directive at a meeting with stakeholders on the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan rail project at Papalanto, Ogun State.
At the stakeholders’ meeting, the minister said there would not be construction without demolition, noting that human beings are occupying the existing right of way illegally. He said, “One day, they have to be cleared. There are some structures that the Lagos State Government is supposed to pay for, have they paid? We will write to them.
“I was once a governor. It takes time for the system to bring out the money. You do not just go and ask the system to give you money and they immediately give you the money. It takes processes. So, let’s wait and see what happens.”
Amaechi asked the officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation to write through the State Secretary to the Government notifying him on the promise he made concerning the building located at No. 5 and 7, Funsho Williams Avenue, beside Costain bridge, Lagos State.
Amaechi said there “are structures belonging to Nigeria Railway Corporation. We said they should not just do valuation; they should also identify ownership of the properties.
“If they have leased them out and they are legal, we have no choice than to pay. If the lease has expired, the owner has no choice but to hand over our properties to us. But we want to do an audit first.”
He said the land available for the Apapa railway station “is not enough. We should have a very wide space that we can say this is a station than to have buildings crossing the front of the station. That is why we want to see that everything is done properly.”
On transporting cargoes by rail, the minister said the federal government “is yet to construct the standard gauge. For now, standard gauge is not functioning to its capacity. Until these two things happen, you can’t move enough cargoes.”