By Albert Akota Abuja
The Minister of Transport Rotimi Ameachi has ordered China Civil Engineer Construction Company (CCECC) to complete the Lagos- Ibadan rail project especially Iju in Lagos state to Agbado at Abeokuta in Ogun state within two weeks.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr.Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who gave the directive in Lagos, during the January inspection of the project, said the ultimatum is ensure the project is deliver for commercial purposes.
Amaechi, who frowned at the pace of work at the particular section of Iju, in Lagos to Agbado in Abeokuta by the contractors, informed that,
though the project whose stipulated period is three years, can’t be delayed as such.
He stated that he may be pushing the contractor a bit hard but, “I want the project delivered. Though, we cannot say that CCECC isn’t trying but, for commercial purposes, they have to complete the section so that, passengers can board train to Abeokuta.”
According to him, “Getting to Abeokuta you will see that there’s an improvement but the problem they have now is the civil work between Agbado and Iju which is critical to me because I don’t think passengers will go to Agbado to join the train.”
He added, “I believe that the closer we are to Lagos the better for the rail and that is why I had to tell them to tell me what they will do about this before the next two weeks, although there’s a huge improvement up to this point. I want them to speed up the construction from Iju to Agbado.”
On why the contractor had yet to bring in more equipment to hasten the pace of work, the minister stated that the excuse given by the firm was that the equipment were not off-the-shelf items that could be moved easily to Nigeria from abroad.
He observed that, “Part of the solution to the congestion around Lagos sea port is an efficient rail line. You can argue that the narrow gauge is there but it is not efficient. But the moment you fix this then those goods will be transferred to the rail and then the logjam will disappear.
“The moment we do the section from Iju to the sea port, then most of those goods, especially the ones gong to Ibadan will be on the rail lines.”
When asked whether the government was being pressured by Nigerians to complete the rail project, Amaechi replied, “Of course, and it is also because of the speed for it takes you about 30 minutes by rail from Lagos to Ibadan as against over one hour by road. And this is subsidised.”
The minister speaking further, stated that the pace of work at the Ibadan axis was equally not encouraging. Adding that, despite the focus at the Lagos-Abeokuta section, what he saw at Ibadan wasn’t enough.
He informed that, “Though, the focus now is the completion of the project but, we are expecting the deployment of about thirty passenger coaches, three hundred wagons and then, two sets of coaches from Agbor, Delta State for test running of this ongoing project,” Amaechi revealed.