The Federal Government is set to demolish two bridges in Lagos and other properties on the right of way to pave way for the construction of the Standard Gauge Rail line extension from Ebute-Meta to Apapa Seaports. They are the Jibowu and Costain bridges including properties on right of way at the Apapa Seaport.
The Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi disclosed this on Saturday during the routine monthly inspection tour of the Rail Line from the Ebute-Meta end of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail Line to Apapa Sea port in Lagos.
Amaechi hinted that considering the ‘heavy economy’ of Lagos as well as to avoid causing unnecessary traffic chaos within the affected areas without providing alternative bridges, there was need to complete construction work on that axis before demolishing the bridges.
“There are two bridges we are going to demolish in Lagos; one is at Jibowu and the other one is at Costain. But we have to finish construction before we demolish because Lagos is such a heavy economy that if you demolish without first of all constructing the alternative bridges, you’ll cause serious crisis with the traffic. So, we will first finish construction before we demolish the Jibowu Bridge. They have commenced with Costain; when they finish with the construction and get the traffic relieved, then we’ll demolish the old bridge”, he said.
On the solutions to the challenges hindering the conveying of cargoes by train from the Apapa Seaport, the Minister added that currently, the Standard Gauge Rail Line has not been constructed to Apapa ports and the Narrow Gauge Line is not functioning to its full capacity hence, the train could not move enough cargoes as expected.
Hear him “We are yet to construct the Standard Gauge. For now, the Narrow Gauge is not functioning to its full capacity. Until these two things happen, you can’t move enough cargoes. Currently, we are having between two hundred and three hundred thousand tonnes of cargo in a year when you have thirty million tonnes of cargoes. So, if you have thirty million tonnes of cargoes, you have to make sure that the tracks function properly to move those cargoes”.
On the ownership of properties on the right of way in Apapa Ports, the Minister directed the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to carefully identify the rightful owner for enumeration and proper valuation of such properties for compensation payment before demolition.
“There are properties belonging to Nigeria Railway Corporation; and we have said that they should not just do valuation, they should also identify ownership of these properties. If they have leased them out and they are legal, we have no choice than to pay. If the lease has expired, the owner has no choice but to hand over our properties to us. But we want to do an audit first”. He enthused.
Giving a breakdown of the status of the entire Lagos-Ibadan Railway Project contract, Rotimi Amaechi opined that the contract is in two segments; extension of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail Line from Ebute-Metta to Apapa Sea ports and the second one was the Lagos end from Ebute-Meta to Ibadan emphasizing that the contract sum for the extension was about 90 million dollars.
Meanwhile, the Minister has reiterated that it would cost the Federal Government about $3.9 billion to connect Abuja to Warri by train including the building of the Warri Seaport.
While commenting on the progress of work on the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Project, he explained that about 123 km on track laying has been covered adding that the remaining 38 km would be completed hopefully by the end of May, 2019.
The Minister revealed “We are at kilometre 123 remaining 33 kms. So, we know we will get there before the end of the Month. It is just 33 kms left and they are laying 3 kms per day which means in 12 to 13 days they should be at Ibadan”.