The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi on Thursday directed the contractor handling the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, the CCECC to complete the Iju-Agbado section of the project within two weeks.
Amaechi gave the directive, while inspecting construction works at Ijoko, Kajola on Ogun State axis, saying the ongoing construction of Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge rail lines remains the only known, and immediate solution capable of ending the lingering chaotic Apapa gridlocks, when completed.
He was particularly concerned with the Chinese firm being able to speed up ongoing work between Iju in Lagos and Agbado in Ogun, due to the high volume of passengers. He stressed that he would come for a test-run on January 14th, to confirm that the sections were completed.
Already, a train car test-run was done from DK37 Kajola to DK75 Itori in Ogun which was about 38 km from Agbado to Abeokuta axis.
“The problem the contractor has now is the civil work between Agbado and Iju which is critical to me because I don’t think passengers should go and board train from Agbado.
“I believe that it is important that the closer we are to Lagos, the better for the rail.
“That is what we are battling now because I want them to use the same speed noticed in some sections in the construction of Agbado area to Iju.
“They want us to flag off from Agbado but I don’t want because I feel Iju will be more appropriate to flag off and they said they will be ready with that axis in two weeks.
“I think we should get to Iju because it will not be wise to drive from Lagos to Agbado to board train,” he said.
Amaechi maintained that the slow pace of work witnessed on the project was due to inadequate equipment and manpower.
“They argued that lack of equipment was responsible for the pace of work because the equipment were not on-the-shelf equipment that can just be picked and paid for.
“What is causing the delay on the Agbado to Iju axis is equipment related.
“The equipment have to be applied from overseas, we will have to wait for the processing and then ship them down and if we wait for those equipment, we might be finishing the job when the equipment will arrive.
“We are expecting 30 passenger coaches mixed with locomotive wagons, 300 wagons and two sets of Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) made up of ten coaches each and two motorcars will arrive Lagos before the construction work is completed,” he said.
“As you can see, the narrow gauge is existing, but it is not efficient.
“The moment we fix this project then, those goods will be transferred to the rail and the traffic locked jam will disappear on the road.
“We need to push the contractor to work faster; the pressure is more of economic than political, because once the project gets to Iju in Ogun, the next pressure is to get to the Sea Ports.
“When the rail lines get to the Sea Ports then, most of these goods will be on the rail, thereby reducing pressure on the roads,” the minister said.
Amaechi said that efforts had been put in place to fast-track the project for the benefit of the citizens.
He said that there was improvement in the level of works done on Abeokuta axis of the project, adding that there was challenge on Agbado-Iju in Ogun toward Lagos corridor.
The minister said that he recently signed N42 billion contract to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) to get more equipment to fast-track the pace of work.
“You can see that there is an improvement from Iju to Abeokuta, but from Iju to Agbado toward Lagos is where we have little challenge on civil work.
“I believe the closer we get to Lagos, the better for the rail; that is why we are battling the contractor to tell us when the work will get to Lagos axis in full.
“There is a huge improvement up to Abeokuta from Iju and then, we also want them to get the same speed in the construction to Agbado-Iju toward Lagos corridor.
“Railway construction is not like frying an egg, it’s not easy, though, the contract is three years.
“We are just doing a year plus, but we assure that it won’t exceed the scheduled period.
“We are just pushing them to hasten the work for the benefit of people, not for political reason, but more of economic reasons,” the minister said.
Amaechi said that the standard gauge line when completed would improve the business of the various communities along the rail corridors.
He added that the development would generate more employment among the teeming youths along the rail corridors of various communities.
It would be recalled that Amaechi had during his December 2018 inspection, said that 33 kilometers of Standard gauge track had been laid out of the 85 kilometres distance covered from Lagos to Abeokuta.
According to him, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo will by January ending in 2019 inaugurate the Lagos to Abeokuta Standard Gauge railway line.
“All the four extra-large bridges, 11 normal large bridges, four medium bridges, two steel structured bridges, 10 frame bridges, 207 culverts in the Lagos-Abeokuta axis have reached various stages of completion,” he said.
According to him, eight coaches earlier imported for use at Ajaokuta will be deployed for use from Lagos to Abeokuta early 2019.
Speaking on the ongoing Itakpe-Warri test-run, the minister said it would extend to May after which it would commence commercial activities.
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