…Explains suspension of Lagos Abeokuta free train ride
By Adelola Amihere
The Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi yesterday disclosed that the Ibadan to Kano double gauge rail line estimated to cost about $8billion (about N2.44trn) is currently before the Federal Executive Council awaiting approval before it can begin.
The Minister disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists during the monthly inspection tour of the Lagos Ibadan rail project.
According to him, “I am a member of the cabinet but i am not the cabinet and I don’t know how the cabinet will go..it will be discussed at the cabinet. Hopefully I pray that they approve so that we can continue.”
The rail line which is a part of the Lagos to Kano double rail project will pass through several states including Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Kwara and Niger state before it gets to Kaduna and then Kano.
It will be recalled that in September, 2018, the Minister had announced that the FG is committed to the project and it is currently negotiating about $6bn facility from the Chinese EXIM Bank to do the project.
While inspecting the Abeokuta to Ibadan axis of the rail project which spans from kilometre 82 to km 156 Amaechi who expressed fears over possible delays advised the contractors to speed up civil work of the track path before the rains begins.
We must finish civil works before the rains and after that what’s left is just laying of tracks and then the stations which they have already started building of which we cannot give a date and time .
“They have assured me that by the time we come on the 28th of March they would have gone far with the civil works. Some areas they will complete it to what they call MC one level before they lay the tracks.
“They should be able to get to kilometre 95 track laying .
So that by second week in April when we come again , they would have gotten to Kilometre 120 which is very very close to Ibadan with track laying.”
He also disclosed that the $1.5b cost of the Lagos Ibadan project have been altered to accommodate expansion’s of rail stations amongst other things.
“So you have bigger stations in three different places one in Lagos, Abeokuta, and Ibadan. Nigerians like to see big things but not because Nigerians like them but you have to increase them to increase economic activities.
“We demolished military barracks and moved their equipment we paid for it. There are lots of new things that we did not foresee that we met in the process of construction. We will go to cabinet to seek approval,” he stated.
Speaking further, Amaechi Citied security challenges for the suspension of the three months free train ride of the Lagos to Abeokuta route following the flag off in February .
He explained : “t was suspended by the Chinese and the excuse the Chinese gave is that they could not allow it run when they travelled to their country during elections because of safety and because they have not completed the second line which if you see , they have almost completed the second line from iju to Abeokuta .
“After that,I’ll see to it that they resume because we promised Nigerians free train ride for three months . I want to apologise to Nigerians that they had to stop when they left the country.