Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation
By Shola Fadeyi & Emmanuel Ajiboye
The Lagos-Ibadan railway project will now be fully completed by April, 2020, according to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
The Minister who made the disclosure in Ibadan yesterday. during his monthly inspection of the project site , said that the lack of support from land owners, theft, delays in importation of equipment from China, were part of the reasons for the delay in completion of the entire project.
He said: “We are having so many issues on the Lagos end of the project because we are dealing with urban renewal. We are building new flyovers, overhead bridges, underpasses, pipes, sewage and we pray that we don’t meet it in Ibadan to Kano.
“If we will meet anything like that, it won’t be in the magnitude of Lagos because it was a total chaos and we didn’t get the kind of support we needed initially but now we have it.
“The support could be the people and the fact is that some people are still in court over this because lands were taken from them. We are confronting the challenges of stealing. We are beginning to hear about stealing.
“It wasn’t there at all for those who live in Lagos and Ibadan but now we are hearing that people are stealing our equipment.’’
On the issue of the ongoing work on the stations, Amaechi said; “the argument is that they are willing to complete the stations but the equipment have not arrived from China and our argument is that they should get some things from Nigeria.
“Before, they wanted to import glasses and doors as if we don’t have in Nigeria, the pressure we are putting is now making them buy the glasses and doors in Nigeria and they are installing them which will quicken the process.
“They are still expecting pipes and other things and they requested that we give them one or two months to complete the stations.”
For the free Christmas ride which will commence on the the 30th of November, said by the time we come for inspection on the 20th of December, the track will get to Ibadan and the issue will now be the completion of stations, communications and signaling so that we can commence test running on the 30th of November.
“We don’t have enough coaches and locomotives but we will start with as many people as we can take pending when the 20 locomotives that we imported arrive and we expect that they will arrive end of December or latest second week in January, 2020’’,according to him.
The Minister also noted that in a month’s time, track laying will get to Moniya in Ibadan, Oyo State.
He said: “We will all agree that there is huge improvement. From the 20th of December when we will carry out the next inspection, we will get to this place (Moniya in Ibadan) which means that our focus will no longer be on the track but on the completion of the stations and communication and signal. Once we get communication and signaling, we will be out of Lagos-Ibadan.
“We will be out of this place (Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge project), latest by April 2020. We are no longer giving ourselves the time, the contractors are the ones giving us the time. The initial contract was from Ebute-Meta but because we wanted it to end at the seaports, we extended it and that is where the challenges are.
“The fact is that they can get to Ebute-Meta even before December or early January, but getting there without getting to Apapa will not achieve much because we need to clear the gridlock and the easiest way to do it is to get the track to the seaport. That way, cargoes will be loaded to wagons and taken to Ibadan and thank God we have signed the contract for the Ibadan-Kano, as soon as we get the money, we will start work and the gridlock will be cleared.’’
He also expressed optimism that the challenges experienced in Lagos-Ibadan axis will not come up when the ministry starts Ibadan-Kano axis.