Kasim Sumaina and Sunday Okobi
The federal government at the weekend stated that the construction of the Ibadan-Kano rail project will kick off by first quarters of 2020.
This is even as it commended the contractor handling the project, China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), for completing the 156 kilometre track from Lagos to Ibadan.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, while speaking to journalists in Ibadan, Oyo State, on the sidelines of the December inspection of the project, hinted that the Chinese are fixated on completing the work by April, noting that the government is pushing them back to work from January 6.
According to Amaechi, the excuse they are giving now is that most of their workers have gone for Christmas break. “I quite disagree with the speed of work at the stations, but they have tried with the tracks, as this is the first time that we are taking train ride from Lagos to Ibadan major station.
“We should commend them that they have been able to get to the 156km the remaining 2km is not part of the contract, because the contract states 156km.”
The minister added: “Although I am not quite happy with their pace of work, they have said they have a time line which is for the minor stations to be ready by February, and major stations would be ready by April which means you can inaugurate it by April or you force them to speed up the work, and that will be before February.”
While assessing them for the year, he said: “They have done well in track laying and construction of stations. Well I have told them to source for their materials locally-like doors, windows among others which can be bought in Nigeria, and we are encouraging them to use our materials from Nigeria so that our industry can grow.”
He reiterated the federal government’s Executive Order 005 on prioritising Nigerian businesses, and thus, instructed the CCECC to source materials from the country which would not only translate to boosting the economy, but drastically reduce youth employment.
“What you see in Kajola station is the trial run of our local content, including the tiles, windows and doors, if they meet the standard we are looking for, we will then recommend that all other station use local materials,” Amaechi stated.
Speaking further, Amaechi revealed that the project is expected to be ready by April, adding: “By first quarter next year, we would have moved to Ibadan-Kano corridor.
“The Lagos -Ibadan would be ready by next year but we will not allow this type of speed on the Ibadan to Kano standard gauge rail because if we allow this kind of speed, by 2023, they will not have finished, and after a few more months, another president will come in and say he did the work whereas I have been suffering, running up and down to ensure we complete the work.
“Although it does not matter who completes it, what matters is that Nigerians have means to convey their goods.”