The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has stated that 20 new coaches for the Abuja-Kaduna and the Lagos-Ibadan rail lines will arrive in the country in about six weeks.
Amaechi said this yesterday while answering questions from journalists on his arrival from China at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Explaining the thrust of his official visit to China, where he took delivery of some of the new trains, Amaechi said: “We went for two items, basically to get more locomotives and coaches. They’re all ready. It will take six weeks to get to Nigeria and maybe one week to clear them. For the Lagos trains, it will be easy; it will take a day or two to get it to the track, but for the trains coming to Abuja, it will take one week or two to get them here.
“To my surprise, the coaches we released two or three weeks ago to Kaduna arrived just within two days. So, we hope that when these trains arrive in Lagos seaport, we should be able to get them fast. We are expecting 20 coaches, 10 for Abuja-Kaduna and 10 for Lagos-Ibadan line as a temporary measure, as more will arrive in the second batch as we complete the Lagos-Ibadan rail line.”
The minister had while taking delivery of the newly built trains in China, tested run the locomotives and motored cars.
He confirmed that these trains were better improved and of higher technology than what were obtained previously.
Amaechi added that more trains are still being built for Nigeria, and that the next batch would be delivered as soon as they are ready.
On maintenance, he said, he’s making sure that every contract comes with a maintenance contract, while rail engineers from Nigeria are being trained in China to take over the maintenance of the trains from the Chinese.
On the reason for maintenance contracts, the minister said: “As governor of Rivers State, I made sure that everything I did in the state was maintained, I kept a maintenance contract going, but what is happening there now, I won’t know. So when people ask me, what do you do about maintenance? The answer is: ‘In all our contracts, you have a maintenance contract’. Like now, the one for Abuja has expired, and I’ve just directed them to renew the contract. Though I’m going to seek approval from both the president and the cabinet, however, the Chinese should not leave the site for now.
“Also, what is critical to the sustenance of our railway system is what we are doing in China. We are training our people; the Chinese won’t live here forever, they have to go, so our own engineers will take over. I met with some of those Nigerian engineers during my China trip. We hope that in the coming years, they will come back and then we can stop the Chinese maintenance contract in both Kaduna-Abuja and Lagos-Ibadan.”
For Warri-Itakpe, the minister assured Nigerians that it
would be completed early next year.
He added: “That one is nearing completion. It should be completed by January/February or March, but that’s not the problem, the problem is Abuja to Itakpe with the Seaport in Warri. We’ve signed all the documents; we are just waiting for the Chinese.”