NRC Debunks Alleged Overpricing of Lagos-Ibadan Railway Project

Fidet Okhiria

Esther Oluku

The Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr. Fidet Okhiria, has dispelled rumours of alleged overpricing of the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan railway line while also dismissing claims of those comparing the cost of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line to the cost of a supposed rail track construction in Ghana.

Following a trail of stories of a supposed $2 biillon contract for the construction of a 414-kilometre railway line in Ghana, to CCECC, the same company that is constructing the Lagos-Ibadan railway line, some have been comparing the cost to that of the Nigerian Lagos-Ibadan rail project and have been criticising and making allegations against the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.

However, the Nigeria Railway boss, Ikhiria, has debunked the ‘fictious’ allegations.

He said the government of Ghana does not have any contract with CCECC for the construction of any rail line and went further to challenge anyone who claims otherwise to produce the contract or any document for everyone to see.

“I won’t mind sponsoring us to Ghana. Let us see if there is any rail track CCECC is doing. Luckily, Ghana came to understudy us about two months ago.

“I challenge them to show us the contract that was awarded to CCECC to construct rail lines in Ghana that they, the rumour peddlers are now comparing to the cost of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line,” he said.

He noted that a delegation from Ghana some months ago were in Nigeria to understudy the railway system in Nigeria, adding that there is no basis for comparing the Lagos-Ibadan rail projected that is almost completed to a non-existent Ghana rail contract with CCECC.

Answering questions during a live TV programme on Channels Television yesterday, the Nigeria railway boss explained that although he cannot speak for Ghana, he was aware that there is no contract between the Government of Ghana and CCECC for rail construction in Ghana, and can show evidence of the quality and quantity of rail work being done here and its cost.

“Here in Nigeria, quality work is being done. I can take you by rail from Idu to Ibadan on standard gauge, I can take you from Abuja to Lagos, I can take you from Itakpe to Warri. You can come to Ebute Metta to see the kind of stations we are building.”

Okhiria explained that it was complex to build a rail track in a modern city like Lagos.

“It is even more complex to build if you are passing developed areas than when passing through the bushes or virgin land. There’s a place that took CCECC time to blast the stones.

Responding on the change from $1.488 billion to $1.5 billion for the project, the Nigerian Railway boss said, “Don’t forget in any contract there’s a part called contingency. When you talk about $1.488 billion, that is from Ebute Metta to Ibadan. But when this administration came in, the Minister (Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi) said we must get to the seaport. So that element of over 25 kilometres from Ebute Metta junction, a place popularly called Alagomeji, to the port and within the port is going take more because we have to link all terminals. So that’s an additional addendum
which is about nine million dollars.”

He also mentioned another expense, which according to him can also be sourced from contingency. “Between 2006 (when Lagos-Ibadan rail project was first commissioned by then President Obasanjo) and now, people had built on them (proposed rail lines) like some parts in Abeokuta, compensation had to be paid. Those are elements that may come through contingency.”

Okhiria also explained that the contract not only covers rails but includes other necessities. “We are getting rails, we’re getting stations, we’re getting signaling and Communication”, he said.