Barely one week after the 2019 Gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly elections, the Hon Minster of Transportation, Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has commenced the monthly inspection tours of the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Project.
The Minister stated that having flag-off for test running of the Iju-Abeokuta section of the project last month before its temporary suspension by CCECC, the Contractor handling the construction of the project due to safety reasons, he had to resume the regular inspection tours of the project because there was need to fast track construction work on the Abeokuta-Ibadan section of the project as well as his passion and drive to always delivered on target.
He noted that with the level of progress of work already achieved on the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Project, he was sure of quality work delivery in good time.
Amaechi spoke to newsmen in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital shortly after inspecting the Lagos-Ibadan rail project on Friday.
On his drive as it concerns the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Project, he said, “one, as Minister of Transportation, I have a responsibility that the President has assigned to me and I must deliver on it. If you recall, as Governor of Rivers State, I was always passionate to deliever on target, that same passion to deliver has not changed and as a person, I am always restless at delivering on responsibilities either giving or personal and that passion, I am still holding even as a Minister of Transportation”.
“The second is that the economy of Nigeria can be driven most importantly by linking the Seaport to the hinterland because when these cargoes come, they need to be evacuated on time. The more you are able to move both men and cargoes, goods and services to the hinterland, the more you create jobs, and the more you create jobs the more economic growth you achieve, that is my drive.”, he said.
However, he prays that whoever would succeed him as Minister of Transportation should have the same passion and focus on that responsibility and “I think, that passion is everywhere”.
On the level of progress of work, Amaechi said, “You can see that on the Abeokuta to Ibadan section of the Rail Line, there are places that civil works have already been completed and we are pushing that they must complete all the civil works along the Rail line before the rains commenced. The Contractors have promised that before our next visit on the 28 of March, they would have gone far with the civil works. They have also promised that they would achieve up to kilometre 95 with the track-laying from kilometre 81. We are pushing so that by the first to second week in April, they should be very close to Ibadan with the level of track laying.”
According to Amaechi, the pace of work on the project may have slowed down due to ‘election break’ by the contractors but since they resumed work, they would intensify efforts to meet up with project delivery target.
“They said because of the elections most of them left the country and they are just returning and they will increase the speed as they have resumed. It is the company’s procedure for them to leave. If there is any where they are doing jobs and there are elections in those places, they will go back to their country and come back after elections.
Now that they are back to site, the speed of work will increase. We should commend them for the pace of work and the quality of work done. For them to have passed Abeokuta and gotten to Kilometer 82 completed with track-laying and promised that by the time we come back they would have gotten to kilometer 95 and with these assurances, one could conclude that their efforts is worth commending”, he said.
The Minister added that differentiating between the old and new contracts signed with CCECC, the contractor handling the project, the Minister said, “These are phased projects and we decided to start from Ebute Metta to Ibadan which is phase one of the projects. The phase two is a completely new contract which is from Ebute Metta to Apapa Seaport. It wasn’t there before, it was just recently awarded by this Government. So, let them finish from Ebute Metta to Ibadan then we can continue from Ebute Metta to Apapa Seaport.
On the availability of required Equipment to work with by the contractors, Amaechi has this to say “Equipment has always been an issue, because it is about ‘groups’, some ‘groups’ don’t have enough equipment and that was the ‘team number three which is Kilometer 75-120’. If you look carefully at kilometer 75- kilometer 120, you will notice that there are gaps and these are the gaps we want them to fill so that we can get to Kilometer 95.They promised we can get to Kilometer 95 with track laying but they can’t guarantee up to Kilometer 120. But what is important is that if they get to Kilometer 120 with the formation, then we can be sure that before the first week in April we should be able to get there with track laying which is about 36 km to Ibadan.
On the temporary suspension of test run, he explained that it was suspended by the Chinese when they left the country and the excuse they gave was that they couldn’t allow it to run because of safety, since they have not completed the second line from Iju to Abeokuta which is nearing in completion and after that “I will insist that they resume because we promised Nigerians two months test run and I want to apologize to Nigerians that they had to stop when they left the country because of elections. Initially, I didn’t envisage that and now I think they should go back”.